By Novell Zwangendaba – JOHANNESBURG – Following an announcement by FIFA that it was investigating why there had been empty seats at some of the World Cup matches in South Africa, socoza.com, a website involved in the online transfer of tickets has spoken out on FIFA’s embarrassment in having to explain thousand of empty seats at matches at the World Cup.
Socoza.com says it has seen an increase in ticket holders wanting to transfer tickets ahead of the Round of 16 Matches that start on 26 June, and that it will resist any attempt by FIFA to shut them down.
Joel Shoot, legal counsel for socoza.com said “the website does fall in line with FIFA ticket transfer policies”, but added that “FIFA is not being candid with the public in regard to their ticketing policy. Many non-sponsoring companies involved in the sports business, for example Nike, Adidas, ESPN, and Football Federations around the world buy up large tranches of tickets. These companies offer these tickets to ticket brokers to transfer to other corporate or individuals. Ticket brokering is a well established billion dollar business around the world. Sporting bodies such as the NFL, NBA and NHL are open to this practice, and it ensures that their events do not experience many empty paid for seats.”
Socoza.com is of the view that FIFA has made the ticket transfer so onerous that thousands of ticket holders are unable to transfer their tickets to others who will fill the seats rather that leaving them empty.
Shoot said, “Socoza.com has approached FIFA and MATCH, offering them to work with them to facilitate the transfer of tickets. We presented a very compelling argument to FIFA and even showed them how a fan-to-fan ticket transfer portal worked very well at the Vancouver Olympics.”
“FIFA is blind to the economic impact caused to South African economy by forbidding ticket transfers. FIFA has essentially created a black market for tickets by outlawing ticket transfers. If the policy were controlled in an open environment, all concerns could be addresses and the possibility of empty seats greatly minimized.”
“A fan does not know which match his team will be in the Round of 16. Fans have been forced to buy tickets based on guess work and prediction.”
Joel Shoot said “FIFA earn their revenue from TV rights. Empty seats do not greatly affect FIFA’s bottom line. If fans were allowed to transfer their tickets to eager overseas fans that would translate into the inflow of hundreds of millions of rand into the South African economy.”
He said that socoza.com ‘welcomes’ the opportunity to work with FIFA in ensuring that there are no empty seats in the rounds of 16 matches.