In just over three months the whole country will get football fever as England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be taking part in the European Championships in France. The three week tournament is one of the biggest footballing events ever organised, with over 15 million people having applied for just over one million tickets via the official UEFA EURO 2016 ticket portal on EURO2016.com. Understandably, demand for tickets, especially those featuring the home nations was huge, and with so many fans disappointed to have missed out so far, there is a danger that they may try to find tickets through another source.
Tickets are only sold via the UEFA EURO 2016 portal. There are no official resellers of the tickets, so fans need to be very wary of using other ticketing websites. This week UEFA announced that ticket holders would soon start to receive their tickets in the post. Historically, this is the moment that the fraudsters go into overdrive, looking to produce counterfeit tickets based on the real designs.
This time around they may have their work cut out. The tickets includes several security features which make them unique. The most relevant visible security features are the laser engraving and laser perforation, barcodes and the new photonic high-resolution image – a coloured hologram, according to UEFA. This brand-new technology, which is being used for the first time ever on a football ticket, showcases the tournament mascot: Super Victor.
"We have been working with the French authorities to combat counterfeit ticket sales and ticket-touting activities in the lead-up to the tournament. We will not hesitate to take appropriate legal action against persons breaking the law on these matters." Martin Kallen, CEO of EURO 2016 SAS said, “We are very confident with the tickets produced for UEFA EURO 2016 and we are certain fans will love them as well.”
Counterfeit tickets are of course a major concern for the tournament organisers but not the only one. A simple search online for “Euro 2016 tickets” throws up nearly one million results, the top, Sponsored Ads all being for ticket agencies who are offering “official tickets” for prices hugely inflated from face value. Tickets for England’s opening game against Russia in Marseille are on sale from £201 to a whopping £5,073 on one site, with hundreds offered for sale (including ten at the top price). With tickets not yet dispatched it would be a huge leap of faith to buy from secondary websites who cannot offer guarantees on the genuine supply of the tickets.
Even if you do receive your tickets, and they are the real deal, you still may not be admitted to the ground. EURO 2016 ticketing terms and conditions are very clear when it comes to the source of tickets. Section 8.5 of the official EURO 2016 Ticketing Terms and Conditions state:-
“Ticket(s) sold, advertised, offered, acquired or used in breach of Article 8 and/or Article 12 of the Terms and Conditions shall be cancelled (and the agreement entered into between EURO 2016 SAS and the Successful Applicant terminated as of right), and any person seeking to use such Ticket(s) will be refused entry or be evicted from the Stadium with no right to refund, and may be liable to further legal action in accordance with the applicable law. Any unauthorised sale or transfer of the Ticket(s) may be reported to the police, public prosecutor and/or any relevant authority.”
This clause essentially makes it illegal to sell or even give away a ticket unless you have permission of EURO 2016, and buying one from an unauthorised source does not mean you will be allowed to enter the stadiums. In reality the resources required to check the details on every single ticket would lead to huge delays in entering the stadium and after the terrible recent events in Paris and Brussels, officials will be keen to move fans into the stadiums as quickly as possible, meaning they will have to balance the need for the highest level of security with due diligence in checking the authenticity of tickets.
As one of those who got lucky in the initial ballot I do not have to worry about having to take my chances on the unauthorised ticket market, but thousands of others will be forced to go in search of tickets on some of these websites. Before anyone parts with their money, heed our three pieces of advice to at least ensure that you are dealing with organisations that have the means to supply genuine tickets.
- Always look at the details behind a ticket resale website. If they offer ticket packages that include travel and list authentication such as ABTA or ATOL numbers, check them out to see if they actually refer back to the organisation you are buying from. Both organisations offer a simple number verification process.
- Check the domain name details. When was it registered? Do the contact details match up and valid? Where are the nameservers located? Is there an SSL or encryption on the website? How secure do you think your details will be if they want to take payment details online?
- What do other people say about the organisation? Look at peer reviews on the Internet. What are people saying about their experience? Were tickets delivered on time?
Whilst new legislation such as the 2015 Consumer Act aims to tighten up the ticket resale industry, there are still far too many loop-holes that rogues can exploit. The winners will still be the organisers, who sell out their events, the losers will still be the consumers who pay over face value for tickets that never exist.