Questions about the size of the black
market for World Cup tickets have been hiding in the shadows ever since the
official FIFA ticket allocation late last year. Now the event is in full swing,
the scalpers have emerged, and with them news that the black market for World
Cup tickets is flourishing.

Writing for The
, World Cup blogger Denis Campbell
says the massive support for England was largely due to the tenacity
with which England fans have pursued black market tickets.

“Collectively, (the
fans) deserve an award – though not, please, from Fifa, the architects of an
obscenely unfair World Cup ticketing policy which is forcing tens of thousands
of ticketless loyal fans in Germany – Dutch, Mexicans and Aussies, as well as
the English and Germans – to resort to such measures to see their team.”

According to Campbell,
there are professional touts following the competition, leaving their business
cards in internet cafés and posting flyers on lamp-posts in a bid to secure
tickets, before on-selling them with huge mark-ups.

“Two Mancunian ‘travel
agents’ I met on a Frankfurt-Cologne train last week had been paying up to
1,000 euros for one seat at England-Sweden, and had given a German student
4,500 euros – in cash, at his bank, at his suggestion – for the four together
he had got through Fifa’s internet ballot. The duo said they had already
secured about 25 tickets for Tuesday. Ask yourself: if they’re paying 1,000
euros a time, how much must they be charging now, in order to make themselves a
profit? The mind boggles.”

As The Scotsmanreported on Tuesday: “Only 500
to 1,000 fans in crowds of up to 72,000 are likely to have their tickets
checked against their personal identity documents at World Cup matches,” making
a mockery of FIFA’s system of checking all ticket’s holders identities against
the name on their tickets.

It now appears
that FIFA’s tough talk was a key plank in its strategy to deter black
marketeers but, as most expected, huge sums are being funnelled from cashed up
fans to touts. How will FIFA spin their way out of this one? We’ll be watching
with interest.

Peter Fray

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Editor-in-chief of Crikey