January 19, 2018 Sean Burns
The Hamburg District Court has issued a preliminary injunction against ticket resale marketplace Viagogo, banning the Switzerland-based company from offering tickets to the upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia until the sport’s governing body has officially allocated them and/or the company physically possessing them.
A violation of the injunction would be punishable by a fine of up to 250,000 euros or six months imprisonment, according to a release posted on FIFA.com. The move essentially blocks the ability of the reseller to offer what are referred to as “speculative” listings, where an individual will offer for sale tickets that they have not yet procured, essentially using the logic that they can locate and purchase tickets to fulfill the order once they are available.
“The court deemed this behaviour to be misleading and in violation of the German Unfair Competition Act (UWG). It also found that offering (overpriced) tickets that were not yet available constituted a “deliberate obstruction” to FIFA with regard to its ticket sales.”
Tickets have been requested by fans at a very high rate, according to announcements by FIFA throughout its ticketing lead-in to the quadrennial event, which kicks off in mid-June and runs through mid-July at 12 stadiums in 11 host cities. More than 3 million tickets have been requested as part of the second phase of ticket sales, which lasts through the end of January. There will also be a third phase of ticket purchasing, where any remaining inventory will be distributed.
Those who receive tickets will be tied to a so-called Fan-ID system, required for all who purchase tickets to the event. These IDs grant admittance to the stadiums for those who hold tickets, and also serve as a visa for foreign visitors entering Russia. The process was tested at last year’s FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia, and reportedly performed well.
It is unclear if the ruling made by the German court will have any impact on other resale operations related to the World Cup. FIFA, through its use of the Fan-ID system and taking such a strong stance against Viagogo’s allowance of speculative listings, is obviously pushing hard to keep secondary ticketing options to a minimum.