In just over three weeks, the whole country will get football fever as England, Wales and Northern Ireland take part in the European Championships in France. The tournament is one of the biggest footballing events ever organized, with over 15 million people having applied for just over one million tickets via the UEFA EURO 2016 ticket portal. Understandably, demand was huge – especially for games featuring the home nations – and with so many fans disappointed to have missed out, there’s a danger they may try to find tickets through another source.
Tickets have only been sold via the official UEFA EURO portal; there are no official resellers, so fans need to be very wary of using other ticketing websites. In the past few days, those lucky fans who were successful in gaining tickets will start to receive them in the post. Each ticket has the name of the applicant and a unique file number, meaning that if a ticket is lost or stolen, it can be quickly cancelled. However, the delivery of the tickets is the long-awaited sign for the counterfeiters to go to work: now they can finally get their eyes (and potentially hands) on the design features.
Although advances in technology mean these will be some of the ‘smartest’ tickets for any event ever issued, a convincing copy will fool most ticket-less fans who don’t know what to look for. 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 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”, said Martin Kallen, CEO of EURO 2016. “We are very confident with the tickets produced for UEFA EURO 2016 and we are certain fans will love them as well.”
Earlier this week, it was reported that a large number of counterfeit tickets for the Europa League final between Liverpool and Sevilla were in circulation. One Liverpool fan paid £700 for a pair of tickets he came across on social media, only to find on examination of the hologram that they were counterfeit. It is unlikely to be an isolated incident as the EURO 2016 tournament nears.
Counterfeit tickets are of course a major concern for the tournament organizers, but not the only one. A simple search online for ‘Euro 2016 tickets’ throws up nearly six million results; the top, sponsored ads all being for ticket agencies who are offering ‘official tickets’ at prices hugely inflated from face value. Tickets for England’s game against Wales in Lens are on sale from £408 to a whopping £10,750 on one site, with hundreds offered for sale (including many at the top price). With tickets only just dispatched, it would be a huge leap of faith to buy from secondary websites that cannot offer guarantees on the genuine supply of tickets.
It gets worse. Even if you do receive your tickets, and they’re 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 states:
“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 the permission of EURO 2016. However, despite its very clear terms and conditions on the sale of football tickets on its website, eBay is currently still allowing listings for tickets. Its terms and conditions state: “… all listings for tickets to association football matches occurring anywhere in the world that are part of a competition or tournament organised by FIFA or UEFA and that an English or Welsh national or club team has participated in, or is eligible to participate in, are also prohibited.”At the time of writing, there are 80 individual listings, ranging in price from £80 for Austria v Hungary to £3,500 for four restricted-view tickets for England v Wales.
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 grounds 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 secondary market, but thousands of others will be forced to go in search of tickets on unauthorized websites. Before anyone parts with their money, heed our advice to at least ensure that you are dealing with organizations 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 organization you’re buying from. Both ABTA and ATOL offer a simple number verification process.
- Check the domain name details. When was it registered? Do the contact details match up and are they 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 organization? Look at peer reviews on the Internet. What are people saying about their experience? Were tickets delivered on time?
- If the ticket has the name of a company or an official organization on instead of an individual, then be very wary. With heightened security likely to be in place for the tournament, you may well be asked for matching ID before you’re allowed to get anywhere near the stadium.
Whilst new legislation such as the 2015 Consumer Act aims to tighten up the ticket resale industry, there are still far too many loopholes that rogues can exploit. The winners will still be the organizers who sell out their events; the losers will still be the consumers who pay over the odds for tickets that never exist.