COMPETITION / CRIMINAL
Live events sector
World Cup organisers FIFA have filed a criminal complaint in Switzerland against the ticket website Viagogo as part of a crackdown on unauthorised World Cup sales, the latest in a line of legal challenges to the company’s business practices. Last week, a UK government minister urged consumers to boycott Viagogo as National Trading Standards launched an investigation into allegations that it has persistently misled consumers, while the Competition and Markets Authority has separately threatened the company with court action.
Football’s governing body said it has received numerous complaints from individuals, consumer protection bodies and other market players about “opaque and deceptive” Viagogo. The criminal complaint filed on Monday with the public prosecutor’s office in Genevais based on a breach of the law on unfair competition against Viagogo
FIFA is reportedly looking to “prioritise the safety and security of fans and enforce a fair 2018 FIFA World Cup ticketing pricing scheme.” In a statement FIFA said:
“FIFA regards the illicit sale and distribution of tickets as a serious issue and views the security implications of the unauthorised transfer and/or resale of tickets as being of paramount importance”
“In light of the above, we encourage fans not to purchase tickets from unauthorised platforms/sellers.”
Recently, FIFA has held talks with UEFA, the European governing body, in order to coordinate action against unauthorised platforms and establish cooperation with the Fédération romande des consommateurs (FRC), the consumer protection association for French-speaking Switzerland, which is a strong advocate against ticket sales conducted through unauthorised sources.
FIFA reiterated that FIFA.com/tickets is the only official and legitimate website on which to buy World Cup tickets.
It added: “Tickets purchased via unauthorised distribution channels, including all tickets purchased through viagogo AG, will be cancelled once identified. FIFA reserves the right to refuse entry to the stadium to any holder of such tickets” adding “During the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, FIFA and local authorities will conduct strict admission checks.”
Prices for England’s opening Group G match against Tunisia, at the Volgograd Arena on 18 June, range from £55 to £124 a ticket, according to Viagogo. For the match against Belgium in Kaliningrad on 28 June, tickets are priced at up to £377 each, while for the final in Moscow on 15 July, the site is offering category one tickets for up to £3,317 each.
Last week, Viagogo was referred to the UK’s National Trading Standards and could face a prosecution after failing to comply with the advertising watchdog’s transparency criteria. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) claims that the controversial secondary ticketing firm is continuing to use misleading pricing after its deadline to make changes to its website by May 29 passed. Viagogo could face hefty fines and prosecution for continuing to be unclear about its extra booking fees and delivery charges added on at the end and the Guardian reports that the re-sales of World Cup tickets cannot be accessed by UK residents via Viagogo