Stop Ticket Scalping in Australia

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FIFA WORLD CUP SOCCER – Meet your Match ? – Corporate Ticket Scalping

Hopefully the Brazilian police will find Ray Whelan, British Executive of the Swiss MATCH Services, and associated others, whom have been accused of scalping tickets to the FIFA World Cup matches.  Ray Whelan is a longstanding director and project manager within the MATCH group.  He was an agent to Sir Bobby Charlton, a former English football player, regarded as one of the greatest midfielders of all time.  

On Monday 7th July 2014, Whelan, 64, was arrested at the luxurious seafront Copacabana Palace Hotel, which is being used by officials of football’s world governing body during the World Cup, pending a court order.  Ray Whelan was arrested under suspicion of running a major World Cup ticket scalping operation.

However when police went to the Hotel on Thursday 10th July, to take him into custody, Whelan could not be found, as he had left the hotel through a service exit.

Police last week made 11 arrests and seized 131 match tickets, including at least 70 for corporate hospitality as part of Operation Jules Rimet into the illegal resale of World Cup tickets.  Jules Rimet was a president of the international football governing body, FIFA, and initiated the World Cup tournament in 1929.

According to the Associated Press, nearly 500,000 of the more than three million 2014 World Cup tickets were allocated to Match and unsold or unused corporate hospitality tickets were supposed to be returned to FIFA so they could then be made available to the public. Re-selling World Cup tickets for a profit is illegal in Brazil and against FIFA and Match rules.

The FIFA website Ticketing Questions_and Answers reported the likely allocation or distribution of tickets, including that 75 percent of the tickets would be available for sale to the general public, and suggests that based upon the last World Cup that 3.3 million tickets would be in the pool.  This means 15 percent would be made available to MATCH Services for authorized sales.

This sorry state of affairs is one example of what many members of the public are very (or most) concerned about – the corporate world bundling up tickets and selling them at exorbitant prices and holding back a big allocation of tickets to sell to the high bidder, and even in this case, to sell to known scalpers, e.g. Algerian ticket broker, Lamine Fofana.

The MATCH group, which owns rights to sell World Cup hospitality packages, has acknowledged that Whelan and Fofana discussed cash sales of final tickets for a total of $25,000 in telephone calls wiretapped by Rio de Janeiro police — but say those were packages that included not just tickets but VIP services, hence the high price, using published rates for the services bundled with the packages.

This is one way in which these corporate scalpers try to get through loop-holes in the rules, in order to make profits for themselves.  However, the police will be looking at whether the published rates of those services increased in anticipation of these ticket sales.

Match Hospitality, the arm that sells packages to other individuals and companies around the world, has a number of shareholders including Infront Sports & Media, whose chief executive is the nephew of the Fifa president, Sepp Blatter.

Match Services, the subsidiary that deals with accommodation, ticketing and IT services for the World Cup, released a lengthy statement in which its chairman, Jaime Byrom, insisted the action against Whelan was “illegal and baseless”.  Jamie Bryom from Mexico, is reported in the News as being a brother-in-law of Ray Whelan.

The main players in this FIFA World Cup ticket scalping scandal can be found in an ABC report  HERE.

Eyebrows were raised when Match was awarded the exclusive rights to hospitality and accommodation for the 2010 and 2014 World Cups but Fifa insisted it was an open tender. In 2011 Fifa announced that Match would continue as its exclusive contractor until 2023 in a deal said to be worth at least $300m.

Perhaps now, FIFA can be lobbied to be more accountable for its choice of contractor for these services. Via its website, FIFA advised the public to report ticket scalping to MATCH Services. See our previous post.

STSA wrote to MATCH services about cases of blatant ticket scalping of tickets to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Soccer, and received the following reply:

Thank you for contacting us.  Due to event related demands, we will not be able to respond personally to every email sent to this address.  However, we would like to provide you with the following information.

If your query relates to the purchase or use of tickets for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil via www.fifa.com<http://www.fifa.com/>, please email either enquiries@2014ftc.com<mailto:enquiries@2014ftc.com> (if you are an international customer) or enquiries@2014ftc.com.br<mailto:enquiries@2014ftc.com.br> (if you are a customer residing in Brazil). The MATCH Enforcement Team does not respond to general customer service inquiries relating to legitimate ticket transactions made through FIFA.com.

The risks of purchasing tickets from unauthorized sources are identified on www.FIFA.com/tickets<http://www.fifa.com/tickets> under the Authorized Sales Channel item, where you found the Enforcement email address to which you just have written.  We posted a warning so that fans like you would avoid the risks identified there.  Please also review the video posted https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BriVRlwGiYw.

To confirm, the ONLY website where you can purchase legitimate tickets is www.FIFA.com<http://www.fifa.com/>.  Sites such as Iguanatickets.com, Viagogo.com, StubHub.com, VIPTickets.com, THGSports.com, fifabr.com, etc. are not authorized to resell tickets and have no legitimate tickets to sell.  Furthermore, fans are not permitted to resell tickets through Facebook, eBay or other social media sites.

You should report the names of unauthorized sellers you have identified to your local consumer protection authorities.  If you have identified a posting on Facebook where a ticket is being offered for sale, please provide us with the URL reference where the precise posting is (not just the URL of the individuals Facebook page generally), as well as a screen shot depicting the ticket, if possible, so that we can seek to have the posting taken down in accordance with Facebook policies.

If you have already entered into a transaction for 2014 FIFA World Cup tickets with an unauthorized ticket seller, we are sorry but there is nothing that we can do to assist you.  We have: (1) no record of your transaction, (2) no way to know if your tickets will ever be delivered or when, and (3) cannot assure you that your tickets are valid.  The General Terms and Conditions state that tickets are not valid in such circumstances and can be electronically cancelled.  Personnel at the stadia, at the FIFA Venue Ticketing Centres and within our FIFA Ticketing Centre customer service department online are similarly unable to assist you with tickets purchased through unauthorized sales channels.

For fans who have official tickets but cannot travel to the matches, they can submit their tickets for resale through their official FIFA.com ticketing account, and that ticket inventory then gets put back into the pool of tickets made available for sale at the original official  price on www.FIFA.com<http://www.fifa.com/> to fans.  Therefore, additional ticket inventory can become available through www.FIFA.com at any time.  If you wish to buy tickets, we suggest that you monitor the official site to check for availability from time to time.

Again to confirm, no other resale website or reseller have been authorized to resell tickets to the 2014 FIFA World Cup other than those offered via www.FIFA.com<http://www.fifa.com/>.  Subject to availability, tickets may also be available for purchase over the counter at official FIFA Venue Ticketing Centres located in Brazil.

If you have a question not already answered by the above summary, please send us a second email with the subject matter “Escalated Inquiry” and then we will respond to you in due course if you require information not addressed by the above summary.

Thank you for your understanding.

MATCH Enforcement Team

MATCH Services AG, Zollikerstrasse 141, 8008 Zurich, Switzerland, Tel: +41 44 583 1460, Fax: +41 44 380 3169

FIFA says it is continuing to work with Brazilian authorities investigating the resale of World Cup tickets. “It is particularly in the interests of FIFA to get full clarification in this matter as fast as possible,” FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fischer said.

In Australia, the State of Victoria has legislation requiring a ticket allocation scheme in certain cases, to be submitted to for approval to the relevant Minister.  You can read the Act by clicking on the link for “Resources” on the left.

Under the Major Sporting Events Act the Minister may make a sports ticketing event declaration in respect of a sports event. The effect of making such a declaration is that within 60 days of receiving notice that the Minister has made the declaration, a sports event organiser must give the Minister a ticket scheme proposal.

This proposal sets out details concerning the sale and distribution of tickets to the event. Essentially, it requires the event organiser to declare publicly how tickets are to be distributed and to whom and in what quantity. For example, the ticket scheme proposal should specify the minimum proportion of tickets available for sale or distribution to the public generally or to particular classes of persons.

Perhaps one of FIFA’s official documents, which you can download at the following pages of their website explains the legislation covering sales and distribution / allocation of tickets to the World Cup.

http://www.fifa.com/aboutfifa/officialdocuments/index.html

http://www.fifa.com/aboutfifa/officialdocuments/doclists/laws.html

We watched the World Cup Soccer Matches and the Brazilian world was turned upside down with Brazil playing like a “ghost team” in its semi-finals match against Germany. Now that the Brazilian police have revealed the topsy-turvy nature of ticket selling to a big event like the FIFA World Cup, we hope legislative measures and pressure can turn things the right way – that is – to have ethical ticket sales.

Police estimated that the scalping ring was making almost $500,000 per match, which works out to more than $27 million so far, and were hoping to make $16,000 per ticket for the World Cup final in Rio. Match has threatened to cancel tickets for the semifinal and final in the name of firms linked to the scheme, but with one of the company’s own directors possibly serving as ringleader it might be difficult to throw the blame elsewhere.

Earlier this week, Match blocked hospitality packages held by companies including the Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries and hospitality firm Jet Set Sports after their names were featured on some of the tickets seized by police.

Brazilian police have told The Associated Press the probe is set to expand to include FIFA and domestic football officials. The investigation, being covered in minute detail by the Brazilian media amid a series of police leaks, has the potential to be hugely embarrassing for Fifa, shining a light on the trade in tickets that critics have long claimed occurs in the shadows of big tournaments.

We wonder can things get more bizarre or upside down in the world of Sport?

Sources of information follow:

http://www.smh.com.au/fifa-world-cup-2014/world-cup-news-2014/brazil-police-chasing-ticket-executive-in-world-cup-probe-of-95-million-ticket-scam-20140711-zt3pr.html#ixzz37DMCnbgB

http://www.theguardian.com/football/2014/jul/10/ray-whelan-match-fugitive

http://www.sportsfan.com.au/fifa-partner-slams-ticket-scalping-arrest/tabid/91/newsid/136959/default.aspx

http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/soccer-dirty-tackle/director-of-fifa-hospitality-partner-arrested-in-world-cup-ticket-scalping-bust-204444760.html

http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2014/07/11/brazilian-police-say-official-in-world-cup-ticket-scalping-case-considered/

http://www.theguardian.com/football/2014/jul/11/world-cup-touting-row-fifa-partner-fugitive-ray-whelan

http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Economics/Ticket_scalping_2013/Report/~/media/Committees/Senate/committee/economics_ctte/ticket_scalping/report/c04.pdf

http://www.usnews.com/news/business/articles/2014/07/08/wcup-hospitality-exec-released-from-jail-in-brazil

 

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