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FIFA sued for ticket 'fraud'

23 December 2013, 10:34

Sao Paulo - Brazilian prosecutors want FIFA and local World Cup organisers to pay nearly $2 million in damages for alleged ticket irregularities at a Confederations Cup venue.

Prosecutors in the northeastern state of Pernambuco say organisers did not provide the services that fans paid for at the Arena Pernambuco during the warm-up tournament this year, especially in relation to seating location.

FIFA's agent in tickets sales, MATCH Services, has also been included in Friday's court action.

Many fans complained that their seats were not as good as shown when they made the purchases, and that some ticket orders forced people to sit in opposite sides of the stadium. The unhappy fans included some who bought the most expensive tickets for the three matches played at the Arena Pernambuco in June.

Prosecutors said they took action after interviewing some of the fans who complained about their tickets, with many saying they thought they would be sitting near the field but ended up sitting high up in the stands. Some allegedly had their views obstructed.

Prosecutors said they hope the lawsuit will help prevent the same problem from happening again during next year's World Cup, a tournament for which FIFA has already sold nearly 1.2 million tickets. Nearly 3.3 million tickets in total will be sold for football's showcase event next year.

"The action is aimed at guaranteeing that consumers receive exactly what they pay for," prosecutor Guilherme Lapenda said in a statement.

FIFA and MATCH this month had already been fined more than $200 000 each by consumer rights officials because of the problems at the Arena Pernambuco.

Fans said they turned to prosecutors because FIFA and MATCH did nothing after hearing their complaints.

Messages seeking comment sent to FIFA, MATCH and local World Cup organizers were not immediately returned on Sunday.

For World Cup tickets, FIFA tells fans in advance that they "cannot choose specific seats," only pick between four tickets categories based on stadium location. It also advises that it cannot guarantee that fans will sit next to each other.

Prosecutors said the $2 million should be paid to a local consumers' rights group and will not go directly to fans, although those who prove they received bad tickets can later seek compensation from FIFA and MATCH.

Tickets for the 16-match tournament cost between $60 to $220, although hospitality packages bought through MATCH cost significantly more.

- AP

Tags fifa football

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