BASEL: Euro 2008 has been a fantastic success, according to the touts who have made hefty profits by ignoring UEFA rules on the resale of match tickets.
Touts have been highly visible at the train stations and town centres of the eight Swiss and Austrian host cities, openly buying and selling tickets despite warnings from organisers UEFA of a crackdown against black-market sales.
“I came over specifically from the States to do this,” said one American tout offering semi-final tickets with a face value of 180 euros (US$280) for 1,400 euros.
The tout, who would not give his name, was one of at least 50 men standing in Basel’s main train station with signs around their necks offering to buy or sell tickets.
“I’ve sold tickets at the World Cup, the Olympics and the Superbowl and business here has been as good as any of them. I haven’t seen anyone at all being challenged by the authorities, though I heard there were some tickets confiscated in Zurich.”
Zurich police said on Thursday they had detained 38 fans in possession of stolen tickets at the start of Tuesday’s Group C match between France and Italy.
All were later released after convincing the police they did not know the tickets were stolen.
When it comes to general black-market sales, police in Switzerland say they are powerless to stop the touts.
“We have very liberal laws when it comes to people selling items to other people in the streets,” Berne’s regional police commandant Stefan Blaettler told Reuters.
“You need a licence if you want to set up something like a market stall but otherwise you can sell just about anything you like. Even if we could act against ticket touts, we have had more than enough work handling the large crowds of supporters.”
A Vienna police spokesman told Reuters that Austria had stricter laws forbidding people from selling tickets at a price higher than its original face value.
The spokesman acknowledged, though, the police had no time to chase after touts and no arrests had yet been made over ticket sales.
“The black market is always there, as we also saw at the last World Cup,” Euro 2008 spokeswoman Pascale Voegeli told Reuters.
“We don’t have armies of people to carry out controls but when we do catch people using tickets that aren’t rightfully theirs we can cancel the ticket and stop them entering the stadium.” – Reuters