The Switzerland-based ticketing and travel packages company MATCH Services AG is investigating an alleged massive security breach of its computerized information systems that resulted in the identities of thousands of World Cup customers being exposed to black marketers.
Names, passport numbers, dates of birth and other personal information reportedly for between 60,000 and 80,000 people who bought World Cup tickets was allegedly leaked and believed to have been sold on the black market, according to the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet. Included among those whose personal information was exposed were former Sweden Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson, Norway’s national bank governor Svein Gjedrem and Swedish skiing champion Anja Pärson.
The information was allegedly leaked by at least one MATCH/FIFA staffer, who may have been in concert with the black marketers, over a year before this summer’s World Cup in South Africa. The personal data may have been used by European black market ticket resellers who approached some of the customers to buy their tickets, which the resellers then sought to sell at a premium.
MATCH has a contract with world soccer governing body FIFA through 2014 to provide ticketing and travel services for the World Cup and other major tournaments, and in a statement to WorldFootballInsider.com, FIFA said it is “aware of the media reports related to this issue,” and is discussing the situation with “service provider Match, which is currently investigating.”
MATCH is a subsidiary of UK-based ticket and travel package company Byrom plc, and officials with the company believe the personal data was safe and under its control, despite Dagbladet’s providing list and email evidence of the alleged security breach.
In addition, tying ticket purchases to things like passport numbers, potentially exposes those customers to serious privacy violations if the information is breached, as it was in this case.
The breach calls into question FIFA’s practices surrounding ticketing for the World Cup and other soccer tournaments, particularly in relation to the recently concluded World Cup, which struggled to sell out all of the matches.
Much like the International Olympic Committee, FIFA tries to take a firm stand about ticketing and resale, by requiring purchasers to furnish identification and submit to other purported safeguards to keep tickets out of the secondary ticket market. Yet, reports of security breakdowns, scams and possible corruption continue to swirl around both governing bodies, and tickets inevitably still end up in what the two say are the wrong hands.