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Fifa files criminal complaint against Viagogo over World Cup ticket sales

Fans who buy through unofficial platforms for World Cup games in Russia face being denied entry to stadiums, Fifa said.


A player lifting the Fifa World Cup trophy (Mike Egerton/PA)

A player lifting the Fifa World Cup trophy (Mike Egerton/PA)

A player lifting the Fifa World Cup trophy (Mike Egerton/PA)

Fifa said it has filed a criminal complaint in Switzerland against online platform Viagogo for selling World Cup tickets.

Football’s world governing body said it joined other parties filing criminal complaints against alleged “opaque and deceptive business conduct” by Viagogo in the so-called secondary market.

Fifa said its priority is “the safety and security of fans and (to) enforce a fair 2018 Fifa World Cup ticketing pricing scheme”.

It said fans who buy through unofficial platforms, including Viagogo, for World Cup games in Russia face being denied entry to stadiums.

Fifa filed its complaint with the public prosecutor’s office in Geneva.

It has worked with Uefa and the consumer protection agency for Switzerland’s French-speaking region to “co-ordinate action against unauthorised (sales) platforms”.

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The legal action filed on Monday was “based on a breach of the law on unfair competition against Viagogo AG with the public prosecutor’s office in Geneva”, it said in a statement.

Fifa said it would cancel all tickets it identified as being traded through unauthorised sellers.

Viagogo’s website was still selling World Cup tickets on Tuesday, including single seats for the June 14 opening game at more than double face value.

A category 3 ticket, the cheapest available to non-Russian residents, for Russia vs Saudi Arabia in Moscow was priced at 474 Swiss francs (£360). The same ticket bought originally through Fifa’s website would cost 220 dollars (£165).

A ticket in a corporate hospitality section for the same game at Luzhniki Stadium was priced at 5,460 Swiss francs (£4,140) on the Viagogo site.

“Prices are set by sellers and may be lower or higher than face value. Prices exclude booking and delivery fees,” Viagogo notes on its World Cup sales page.

Viagogo is a platform for holders of tickets for sports events, concerts and shows worldwide to re-sell, typically at a profit.

It has official commercial relationships with some sports teams.

Fifa’s efforts to crack down on unauthorised ticket sellers requires World Cup host nations to enact new laws.

Ticket touts were arrested in Johannesburg and Rio de Janeiro at the past two tournaments.

In January, Fifa said it obtained an injunction in a Hamburg court to ban World Cup ticket sales through Viagogo’s German website.

“Any violation of the injunction by the company would be punishable by a fine of up to 250,000 euros (£218,000) or imprisonment for up to six months,” Fifa said in January.

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