FIFA files criminal complaint against secondary ticket firm Viagogo
FIFA World Cup Trophy (Supplied)
Geneva - FIFA
on Tuesday said it had filed a criminal complaint against the secondary
ticketing firm Viagogo's sale of 2018 Soccer World Cup tickets, opening a new
battle between sports organisations and websites seeking a share of
"As part of its efforts to protect the fans and prevent unauthorised
ticket resales for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, FIFA filed a
criminal complaint on 4 June 2018 based on a breach of the law on unfair
competition against Viagogo AG with the public prosecutor’s office in
Geneva," world football's governing body said in a statement.
"Over the past months, FIFA has received numerous complaints from
individuals, consumer protection bodies and other market players over
the opaque and deceptive business conduct of Viagogo AG," it added.
The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
FIFA noted that in seeking legal action it was joining other sports
bodies, including UEFA, which has previously taken Viagogo to court.
The European confederation stepped up its battle against secondary
ticket sites ahead of the Euro-2016 tournament, when it established its
own online resale platform and asserted that no one but UEFA could
legitimately sell match tickets.
With the World Cup set to
kick off in just nine days, FIFA also warned fans to stay clear of any
"unauthorised transfer and/or resale of tickets".
It also said that anyone with a ticket that can be traced to an
unauthorised resale site may be refused entry to World Cup matches.
"FIFA reminds all fans that FIFA.com/tickets is the only official and
legitimate website on which to buy 2018 FIFA World Cup tickets," the
statement further said.
Viagogo describes itself as "a global online platform for live sport,
music and entertainment tickets", that aims to "helps ticket sellers
ranging from individuals with a spare ticket to large multi-national
event organisers reach a global audience".
The company is no stranger to controversy, including accusations of
steep price mark-ups as well as battles with the artists and sports
entities that drive its business.
Last month, English singer Ed Sheeran and his promoters announced
that tickets for his concerts sold on Viagogo would be deemed invalid.
The company was founded in 2006 by American businessman Eric Baker,
who had previously been the pioneer behind Stubhub, the secondary ticket
giant widely used by North American sports fans, which was subsequently
bought by online retailer eBay.
In April, Britain's Competition and Markets Authority singled out
Viagogo as the sole secondary ticket seller which had refused to make
changes that the regulator deemed necessary to protect consumers.
Key among those recommended changes was providing better information
to the seller about the ticket, including whether there was a risk it
could be rejected at the venue.
British authorities warned Viagogo that the company would face legal action if it continued to reject calls for change.