Colombia’s Football Federation (FCF) was fined millions over the resale of tickets to matches surrounding the 2018 FIFA World Cup, authorities announced Monday. An investigation by the Superintendency of Industry and Commerce (SIC) found that the Federation, executives, and associated companies formed “a cartel to detour tickets with the aim of reselling them” to “generate excessively high prices.”
The SIC’s fine totals $4.6 million. FCF officials say they will appeal the ruling over a “lack of evidence.”
In total, 17 individuals, two merchandising companies, and the federation itself were implicated in the scandal, including federation President Ramon Jesurun and predecessor Luis Bedoya. Jesurun was reportedly fined $83,000 for his role, with Bedova – who pleaded guilty to corruption charges brought by the U.S. Department of Justice and received a lifetime ban from soccer by the FIFA ethics committee following a previous, unrelated investigation – was fined $72,000.
Regulators say that the scam involved the FCF’s partner company TICKET YA, which served as its ticket vendor for home games during the qualification process for the 2018 World Cup, which saw Colombia finish in the round of 16 after advancing out of group play. More than 40,000 tickets were reportedly directly sold through TICKET YA on the secondary market at “up to 350 percent markup” per the SIC. The scam, which regulators say FCF management was fully aware of, generated profits in excess of $3.5 million.
“Aiming to avoid the FIFAgate scandal, they invented this selection process to give the impression of legality,” said Andrews Barreto, head of the investigation.
Rights-holders diverting tickets directly to the secondary market to reap higher profits while blaming “scalpers” is well known to be common in many countries, including the United States. Artists including Metallica have been exposed to have participated directly in the process, while ticketing giants like Ticketmaster and AXS have encouraged the process directly through “dynamic” pricing schemes and “platinum” branding offering tickets through the primary marketplace at drastically marked-up prices.
Photo: Colombia takes on Senegal in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Photo via Wikimedia