Attempts by FIFA to box out competition from open and protected resale marketplaces have backfired, leading to a black market for FIFA World Cup Qatar tickets as the tournament nears its finale later this month. Fans, who haven’t been able to secure tickets through the “official” resale channel run by organizers have been forced to unprotected online and in-person transactions at the margins of the events in the Asian state of Qatar.

“A black market is taking shape,” a French man told Reuters, indicating that he had sold enough tickets on the side to pay for his trip to the finals. He said that he had done so by charging “the most dedicated supporters” a 1,000 percent markup to sought-after games, such as those featuring stars Leo Messi (Argentina) and Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal).

“I [sell for] the matches that you can monetise the most,” he said.

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The black market resale world has flourished despite Qatar passing a law that granted FIFA exclusive right to sell tickets to the event, penalizing those caught violating the law with fines of up to 10 times the face value of the tickets being sold. The attempts to control the ticket market entirely have extended to the online sphere, where officials have attempted to ban ticket listings from resale marketplaces, which exist largely to regulate and provide consumer protection for ticket transactions.

“FIFA’s ultimate objectives are to prioritise the safety and security of all fans and to enforce a fair pricing scheme for World Cup tickets,” a spokesperson told Reuters.

But those who have tickets to the remaining games of the tournament seem to be avoiding listing them through the official resale channel, which caps the amount that those willing to sell can ask. Instead, they are being moved outside of the official channels.

“I think that people just chose to sell them outside the platform because they will make more money,” says Federico Criado, an Argentina supporter who has tried and failed on multiple occasions to secure tickets through the official channels.

This black market for FIFA World Cup tickets is precisely what any economist will tell you to expect when an event organizer attempts to tightly control resale and puts price caps in place. Instead of a competitive marketplace with multiple options for consumers and sellers to choose from – all of which feature protection against fraud and bad actions – buyers can’t find tickets on the official marketplace, because sellers don’t want to accept taking far below the true market value of the tickets they have.

The coverage of the black market has not yet focused on consumers who have been taken by scammers, but those stories are only a matter of time when consumers are left with no other option to secure passes. There are a total of seven games remaining, with eight teams remaining ahead of Friday’s quarterfinal round kicking off.

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Hopefully, fans of the remaining countries – Argentina, the Netherlands, Croatia, Brazil, England, France, Portugal and Morocco – will see no ill effects of the forced black market if they choose to participate in it vs. missing out on the once-in-a-lifetime shot of seeing their team in action as the tournament continues.

FIFA World Cup Quarterfinal Matches

Friday – December 9

Netherlands vs. Argentina
Croatia vs. Brazil

Saturday – December 10

England vs. France
Morocco vs. Portugal

FIFA World Cup Semifinal Matches

Tuesday – December 13

Netherlands/Argentina winner vs/ Croatia/Brazil winner

Wednesday – December 14

England/France winner vs. Morocco/Portugal winner

FIFA World Cup Final

Sunday – December 18

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Ticket Links

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