FC Barcelona reacted to the embarrassing sight of a stadium full of opposing fans by stripping ticket resale and transfer rights from its supporters for high-profile matches in the future. The team took the action after a reported 30,000 supporters of Eintracht Frankfurt made it to Camp Nou via purchasing tickets listed for resale, after the club initially attempted to limit the opposing fan presence to about 5,000 tickets.
The incident led to an internal investigation in Barcelona, and the Catalan Club decided to take some measures where tickets would be non-transferrable for non-domestic matches and high-risk games.
Following the investigation, the team will reportedly require supporters who purchase tickets to show ID that matches the individual to whom the ticket was sold. Tickets will be non-transferable for all international competitions.
In his press conference after the investigation, Barcelona president Joan Laporta and Juli Guiu, vice-president of the marketing, gave some information about the sales and the distribution of the tickets. They revealed that of the majority of sold tickets (that ended up in the hands of opposing fans) 23,427 tickets were sold online, 3,670 through tour operators, and 1,500 at the ticket office. The online sales system of the club rejected 27,000 requests from Germany until it overloaded. Laporta stated that the club did everything it could to avoid away fans purchasing tickets, including blocking German IP addresses and credit and debit cards buying from the online ticket office. “The club did not sell tickets to German fans. Those who bought those tickets passed them on to German fans, that is obvious,” he insisted, pointing out to “organized ticket touts and unauthorized agents.”
While the club admitted their responsibility for the ticket failure, they attempted to push blame and criticism on their own supporters, (socios) who purchased tickets and then resold their seats to the opposing team’s fans.
Eintracht Frankfurt is famous for their “highly supportive” fan groups particularly when they play European away matches. At its match against Lazio in Rome, the club was accompanied by 12,000 fans. A Barcelona member, Marc Rossell Ricart, tells DW about the atmosphere at the FC Barcelona vs Eintracht Frankfurt match that a lot of people felt unsafe – not because anything violent happened, but because they were used to being surrounded by Barcelona fans. “They tried to shift the blame to the socios [for selling tickets on], but that’s almost impossible,” he adds, “The Germans largely bought tickets from the club. And the club took the money.”
The match resulted in Barcelona’s defeat against Eintracht 2-3, causing the team to exit the Europa League. “The atmosphere didn’t help,” said the furious Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez after the match, demanding an explanation from the club.
Now, the Barcelona club has decided to only sell personalized tickets linked to ID for future home games, and announced that tickets would become non-transferable for all international competitions. It is a wonder how this resolution is going to effect the purchasing behaviors of Barca suppporters, while even president Laporta admits that “[banning ticket transfers] is inconvenient for fans who follow the rules”.