2018 World Cup ticket sales strong, but ticketing process draws anger from fans

By Paul Nicholson

March 14 – It was good news and bad news from FIFA as the final round of ticketing for the Russia 2018 World Cup began. While 356,700 tickets were allocated in 24 hours, complaints poured in from fans unable to access the system.

The biggest complaint came from fans who were queued in the first-come-first-served system but then found themselves, often after waiting hours, kicked out the system and having to join the back of the queue again.

Fans who were able to buy tickets complained they had not received purchase confirmations and were left not knowing if they had secured the tickets or not.

FIFA reacted with a statement on Twitter saying: “We apologise to those who’ve had difficulty purchasing tickets today. We’ve noted the many messages & fully understand your frustrations. We’ve been informed that the issues relate to the sheer volume of fans accessing the ticketing platform. We thank you for your patience.”

FIFA later noted that since problems are still persisting, fans should fill out a ticketing enquiry form and that issues will be resolved “as soon as possible.”

The good news for FIFA is that demand for tickets is strong, even if the ticketing system doesn’t seem to be.

However, the release by FIFA of the breakdown of where most ticket buyers are located has raised the suspicion that the system is prioritising certain nationalities. Not surprisingly Russian fans (197,036) have booked the most tickets, followed, perhaps surprisingly, by fans from USA (14,845), Argentina (14,564), Colombia (13,994), Mexico (13,505), Brazil (9,691), Peru (9,493), Australia (5,500), Germany (5,476), China (5,459) and India (4,166).

The most notable absence from this list is of English fans – from where a huge bulk of complaints regarding the ticketing system were received. Russian and FIFA officials are known to be privately concerned about large numbers of travelling English fans and the potential for violent clashes with organised Russian fan groups, as happened at the Euro 2016 championships in France. Keeping tickets away from the English and pricing them out of local hotels is a tactic that appears to be working.

FIFA said that “despite the huge demand and the potential waiting time to access the website, FIFA encourages all fans to visit our website and check the traffic light system  which gives an indication about ticket availability.”

FIFA announced earlier this week that 1,303,616 tickets had been allocated since the start of ticket sales in September 2017. The ‘Last Minute Sales’ Phase 3 will begin on April 18 and run up until the final match day of the competition.

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