ANSA news agency stated Tuesday that UEFA Champions League Final tickets will be selling for up to 3,000 euros ($4,200) outside Rome’s Stadio Olimpico this Wednesday, May 27, for the game between Manchester United and Barcelona, and tension is mounting over speculation that there could be impending trouble.
The choice of Rome as a venue has already been questioned by many, due to incidents involving police officers and traveling soccer supporters stretching back over several years, but measures in place this year include a total alcohol ban and designated congregation areas for fans of each team. Tickets have been issued as plastic cards, matched to holders’ ID to prevent resale. However, enforcing this could lead to confusion and chaos among traveling soccer fans, exacerbated by the 30,000 fans expected to arrive in Rome without Manchester United tickets.
In further developments this week, two ticket touts were arrested in Rome as part of an “anti-touting” operation for trying to sell Champions League final tickets to soccer fans.
La Repubblica newspaper reported that the men were snared in a threefold effort by Italian authorities, English police and UEFA itself. An Israeli national and another man were taken into custody, and are expected to be dealt with according to Italian ticketing laws.
As Rome braced itself for the onslaught, the Chief of Italian police Giuseppe Pecoraro issued a statement that ticketless soccer fans should stay away or risk falling prey to counterfeit ticket scams.
“We have news of the presence of fake tickets,” Pecoraro told La Repubblica. “The authorities, in particular the Guardia di Finanza are working hard and they have discovered printers and counterfeit tickets. There are no more tickets on sale, those which are will be 100 per cent false.”
Roman authorities are anxious to avoid a repeat of the 2008 UEFA Cup Final in Manchester, when ticketless soccer fans turned violent. Thousands of fans, from both Manchester and Barcelona are already in the Eternal City, and predictably Manchester fans have already begun buying up all the Barcelona tickets that they can. Despite this invasion into enemy territory, hooligan behavior is expected to be at a minimum, due to the alcohol ban and a large police presence, but tickets are scarce and everybody wants one.