World Cup 2006 organisers clash with eBay.de
eBayers, for you the ticket bidding war is over
Some lucky winners of the first round of World Cup 2006 ticket lotto last week are already trying to send their seed money in to hyper-inflation by auctioning their tickets on eBay Germany.
However would-be bidders had a shot across their bows when a top brass German footie official announced, over the weekend, that he would do all he could "within the law" to make sure that people that bought tickets this way wouldn’t get to see a ball kicked, and even threatened mass re-sellers with racketeering and security related charges.
Speaking in the weekend version of Bild, DFB (the German version of the FA) Vice President Horst Smidt said that eBay had been approached in a friendly and informal way before the first ticket ballet, but the meeting "had come to nothing." However he seemed to be suggesting that other meetings were possible and talks were ongoing.
It is understood that ebay.de was unhappy that it was singled out for attention while rivals were not. It is also demanding more details as to which laws or regulations it may have broken and what the future implications might be. The case becomes even more complicated given that the company works across various borders.
eBay also sells used or expired tickets which are bought in the manner of stamps. Presently ebay.de rules do not inhibit any "live" ticket sales and, therefore, present sellers fall within the rules of the site. Whether they are within the state laws (and WC tickets are sold with "strict conditions") would be up to a court - should any case get that far.
The DFB have - so far - only contacted the eBay company offices in Germany. They have stated that he had the full backing of FIFA in this move which could - in the case of non agreement - then be viewed as a security and segregation matter, allowing more serious charges to brought.
Even without this move, the DFB (and its security network) have strong powers to deny entry to grounds to anyone they want, genuine ticket holder or not. They have also set up a special task force to counter people selling fake tickets and stated that the internet would be a likely source of distribution, which they describe as another reason for "avoiding any non approved ticketing channel."
As in the case of the last two World Cups, tickets will be assigned to individual buyers who will have "limited ability" to sign them over to a third person. Research at the last World Cup showed that the vast majority of tickets on sale on the black market came from corporate or sponsorship sources.
At the time of writing a price of €1400 had already been bid for a seat at a semi-final in Dortmond. A brief search of the two most popular English language sections of ebay (.com and .co.uk) brought no results.
Apart from the cost and risks involved, Smidt pointed out that fans would be "foolish to buy inflated priced tickets in this first round of the ticket ballot, because they may be luckier in the later rounds."
UK legal restrictions mean tickets for games involving English and Welsh league sides and the England and Wales national teams cannot be sold by unauthorised agents. An eBay spokesperson said that all such WC 2006 tickets found on the UK site will be removed immediately. eBay UK is permitted to carry tickets for games involving other national teams.
It asked all potential eBay football ticket buyers and sellers to refer to the this page.
For German speakers this is the present ebay.de "banned list". As expected there is no mention of a ban on selling any form of tickets. However - you might well guess - this could change soon. ®