JOHANNESBURG - FIFA hit back on Sunday at
critics who blamed football's world governing body for fans and
companies losing millions on World Cup ticketing scams, which
have left many seats empty in the stadiums.
South Africa's Sunday Times newspaper reported that
petrochemical giant Sasol and dozens of South African
and foreign fans have lost more than 6.5 million rand ($852,500)
in World Cup scams after buying tickets from illegal dealers.
"We have no specific comments on the issue of buying tickets
outside FIFA channels," FIFA spokesman Nicolas Maingot said at a
media briefing on Sunday, adding that FIFA should not take the
blame for millions lost by fans and companies.
"Honestly, we have published I don't know how many warnings
before the competition, even before 2006."
Clifford Green, a lawyer for FIFA and its hospitality
affiliate Match, told the Sunday Times that this week he handed
police a dossier of affidavits from seven companies on their
FIFA this week named Norwegian company Euroteam, which
operates websites, as selling tickets illegally.
Danish national Michael Bakkerstrom and German Siv Anne
Basley appeared in the Randburg Magistrate's Court this week for
allegedly selling tickets illegally for Euroteam.
Despite the crackdown, Euroteam put an advert in the Sunday
Times's sister newspaper, The Times, on Friday, saying: "World
Cup 2010 Tickets. All matches including the final."
A tiny note on the advert says the firm is not affiliated to
FIFA and all orders are subject to Norwegian law.
"No one should buy tickets outside the official channels.
First, you put yourself in an illegal situation and, second, you
might not enter the stadium," Maingot said.
This is little comfort to Sasol Oil, a unit of Sasol, which
is reported to have lost 3.3 million rand in the ticketing scam.
Jacqui O'Sullivan, Sasol's spokeswomen, confirmed the
company was defrauded of millions by illegal ticketing dealers.
"I cannot comment further on a legal matter," O'Sullivan
said, when asked whether Sasol was planning to sue the company
that sold them illegal tickets.
The Sunday Times said other comapnies that made statements
to the police on their ticketing woes include a firm in
Johannesburg, which lost 2.8 million rand after buying 80
tickets, including hospitality.
"FIFA is also working closely with New Scotland Yard in the
UK in shutting down several fraudulent and unauthorised
websites," FIFA said in a statement.
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