How effective will the laws be at preventing 2014 World Cup ticket scams?
Since Brazil was confirmed as hosts for the 2014 FIFA World Cup on 1 October 2007, there have been a wide variety of issues that have faced the nation, the organisers and FIFA.
Those that have grabbed the most headlines in the past 12 months or so, particularly following the hosting of the Confederations Cup in Brazil in the summer of 2013 (a trial run for the main event), have been the anti-government protests and whether or not the stadiums will be safely completed on time for this years' tournament. However, as with all major global sporting events, ticketing is another issue that FIFA has sought to address well in advance of the tournament. There are a variety of "ticket crimes" or "ticket scams" that are associated with major events. Indeed, there is a significant portion of the official website for the 2014 World Cup dedicated to ticketing. Despite a number of good and important measures having been put in place by FIFA, and other parties such as the government in Brazil, scams have been uncovered recently in both the British and Australian press. Last week one UK newspaper claimed that the ticketing fraud surrounding the World Cup could run to £15 million in Britain alone.
Before taking a brief look at the Brazilian State laws in place to deal with ticketing issues, it is perhaps worth looking at the recent past, to the London 2012 Olympic Games, and how ticketing fraud was dealt with there. The Metropolitan Police Service in London set up a dedicated team called 'Operation Podium' to deal with serious and organised crime affecting the Olympic and Paralympic Games economy. A large part of that team's work was targeting those engaged in "ticket crime". At the conclusion of their three-year mandate they produced a "Problem Profile" document in February 2013. They broke ticket crime down into three distinct areas:
- Ticket fraud ('TF');
- Unauthorised ticket resellers (i.e. unauthorised secondary sales) ('UTR'); and
- Counterfeit tickets.
At the time the Olympics were awarded to the UK, there was no specific legislation preventing "ticket crime". However the International Olympic Committee ('IOC') insisted the UK government pass both civil and criminal legislation for "ticket crimes" relating to the Games. This was to be found in section 31 of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games Act 2006. There was some controversy as to whether it was appropriate to criminalise "ticket crimes". Similar laws have been put in place for the upcoming Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
The Problem Paper outlined a number of key findings, including:
- A lack of legislation and regulation for "ticket crimes";
- "Ticket crime" having links to other serious and organised crime;
- Difficulty in suspending fraudulent and unauthorised ticket websites due to a lack of cooperation from many website hosts and registrars, who are somewhat legally ambiguous;
- The public being unable to distinguish between authorised and fraudulent ticket websites.
What seems to have caught the attention of the British media in relation to 2014 World Cup tickets has been what the Problem Paper calls "ticket fraud", whereby organised criminal networks create legitimate looking websites, take payment for tickets and then fail to supply them.
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Kevin is a advisor and member of the editorial board for LawInSport, having previously acted as editor. In his day-to-day work he has two roles: as the Principal for his own consultancy business Captivate Legal & Sports Solutions, and Special Counsel for Sports Integrity at leading global sports technology and data company Genius Sports.