ABU DHABI // Tickets for Fifa Club World Cup matches are being sold illegally on the internet for up to three times their face value. Dozens were available yesterday on websites and online auctions despite the conditions of sale stating that they cannot be resold. With the final at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi on December 19 a sell-out, ticketless fans are paying well over the odds to see the match.
Fifa warned fans against buying tickets from non-official sources. Shatha al Romaithi, the spokesperson for the tournament's Local Organising Committee, said any reselling, buying or donating of tickets was illegal. But on local websites such as Dubizzle.com and Souq.com yesterday, bids ranged from Dh320 to Dh1,000 (US$87 to $272) for two tickets to the semi-finals or final. Officially, the tickets for the tournament cost between Dh10 and Dh300.
There were three auctions on each website. The websites and the sellers said they were not aware that selling the tickets was illegal. One man who was selling tickets online, who did not want to be named, said he did not know it was against the law. He said there had been high demand. He had sold eight tickets in three days. Five of them were for the final and three for the semi-final. "I had no idea. I'm sold out and I'm still receiving calls," he said.
"I was going to go with my family, but no one is coming, they all cancelled. "So I had to sell the other tickets and I'm keeping two more tickets for me and my wife." The man started receiving calls as soon as he offered them online. He bought the semi-final tickets for Dh150 and sold each for between Dh200 and Dh220. Tickets for the final, which cost Dh300, each went for between Dh350 and Dh400.
"I'm surprised. I don't know why they are illegal if someone is willing to pay extra for a ticket and I don't need it," the man said. Another seller insisted that the reselling of individual tickets was not illegal. He bought one ticket and would sell it for the same price, he said. "If you sell a group of tickets then that's illegal. I have my own ticket, but I'm travelling, that's why I put it up," he said. "I'm selling it for the same price as I got it for. And I'm thinking of not selling it, to be honest, because it's such a hassle. A lot of people want to buy."
Sim Whatley, of the Dubizzle support team, said because of the volume of products being sold on the website, it was difficult to monitor all of them. It was not clear to the company that advertising such tickets would be legally accountable, he said. "If Fifa can e-mail us with the regulations that show it is illegal to sell the tickets, then we will be happy to monitor our website and take them off," Mr Whatley said.
"We have hundreds of thousands of products and there is no way we can monitor all of them." Shatha al Romaithi, a spokeswoman for the tournament's local organising committee, said: "As per the terms and conditions of the ticket sale, ticket holders may not sell, offer for sale, resell, or donate their tickets. "We encourage the public to ensure that the tickets they are buying are from the official sources."
Tickets are on sale at Marina Mall, Football House, online at www.fifa.com/uae2009 or by telephoning 800-KICK (5425). "A few thousand" tickets remained for the semi-final matches on December 15 and 16, Fifa said yesterday. Tickets are still available for other matches, including the curtain-raiser between Al Ahli and Auckland City, which will feature the opening ceremony. Abu Dhabi Police said yesterday they had completed all the necessary security procedures for the 11-day event and announced the launch of a safety campaign beginning today with the slogan "Abu Dhabi Police: one team, the goal is your safety."
The awareness initiative is a joint effort between the Ministry of Interior and the committee in charge of security at the tournament. Police said the security measures, which have been approved by Fifa, focus on securing Zayed Sports City and Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium. The measures also regulate traffic carrying supporters to the games. Brig Gen Fares Khalifa al Farsi of the police said in a statement that they hoped those visiting matches would adhere to these measures in order to display the nation's "civilised face".
Police have issued a code of conduct for fans, which places restrictions on items they are allowed to carry to the venues. There is a ban on weapons and sharp objects, bottles, glasses, alcohol and drinks. Any items of a political or racial nature, such as banners, signs, symbols and booklet, are also not allowed. Brig Gen al Farsi also urged fans to arrive early and be prepared for traffic congestion. He also told them to arrive with their tickets; none would be on sale at the venues.