Avoid tour with entry tickets to World Cup matches
6, 11. 2006
Tours with entry tickets to world cup matches is surprisingly not generating much enthusiasm. Reason being tickets are not available. Even planning such a tour is a violation of the FIFA rule. However, many soccer fans are unaware of such a rule and may simply swarm Germany.
Max Air Service, a travel agency announced suspension of such tours organized by it on May 31, 2006 as it could not manage the entry tickets to world cup matches. Max Air Service had tied up with a Chinese travel agency-China International Sports Travel Corp. and had even paid ¥ 80 million towards the purchase of 3744 tickets. It had received 1300 applications and collected a sum of ¥ 280 million from the passengers. Suddenly the Chinese agency informed that not even one ticket was available. Seiichi Sashida, Managing Director of Max Air Service told reporters “We trusted the Chinese company. We will take the legal route if it is confirmed that they have willfully cheated us”.
Leading Travel Agencies are cool about it
However, leading tour operators are quite cool about this development. One such operator told JIN business news reporter that planning such a tour with entry tickets to World Cup matches is unbelievable in the first place. In fact, there had been a circular from the Japan Football Association informing that “Tours with entry tickets to world cup matches are a violation of FIFA Rule and they were organizing tours only for those who already had managed tickets on their own. As a desperate measure, some travel agents have come up with tours minus the entry tickets. According to PRO of JTB, “We still have vacancies in spite of the World Cup being so close at hand.” FIFA banned such tours following the chaos during the World Cup in France in 1998. Fans from the world over had flocked to France to buy tickets locally and laid siege to the stadiums due to inability to buy tickets or inability to enter the stadium due to fake tickets. According to Nittsu Travels “While whole of Japan was in frenzy as Japan was figuring in the world cup for the first time, the Japanese travel world had very little knowledge about the world cup and ultimately ended up having all kinds of problems.” A marketing executive of another travel agency recalled “Carrying ¥ 50 million in a Boston bag, I went around buying entry tickets for the world cup from black-marketers in France.” Ticket prices sky-rocketed due to resale leading to sharp criticism of FIFA and to avert such a situation, FIFA came up with the above mentioned measure.
Dispute starts when identity confirmation of the bona-fide ticket holder is not possible
World Cup tickets up for sale on a net auction site. Proviso “Name cannot be changed” stands out.
In view of FIFA circular, tour operators did not plan any tours with entry tickets to matches. In the France World Cup, 30,000 Japanese traveled to France but this time it will be barely 20,000. In the German World Cup, sale of tickets is being made only by the organizing committee and the identity of the purchaser is recorded in the IC chip in the ticket. To enter the stadium, information recorded in the ticket will be verified against the ID like passport held by the spectator. A ticket needs to be re-endorsed if given to someone else. There is a rumor among the fans that identity will not be changed except in exceptional cases like a person is behind bars for some crime or in a hospital for child birth etc. Therefore, one cannot enter the stadium saying that “I got the ticket from a friend or bought it from a black marketer”. In the Yahoo Auction site, there is a proviso that “Site holds no responsibility for inability to enter the stadium for identity reasons”. It is for this reason that price of tickets has not shot up like earlier. However, that does not mean end of the road. Surprisingly, there are many fans who believe that they still have the chance to see the world cup. It is also not without reason. It is being believed that confirmation of identity is impossible. It is not physically possible to check the identity of tens of thousands of spectators. One of the male employees and a fervent soccer fan working in Tokyo says as follows.
“Even at the France World Cup, identity confirmation was to be made but ultimately could not be done. If Japanese soccer fans get the information after the first match that no identity confirmation is being made, many will manage tickets somehow and swarm Germany”.
In that case, a fresh frenzy may again start all over again to grab the last ticket.