World Cup fans warned off Ebay tickets

Soccer fans who missed out on the official World Cup draws will run a big risk if they buy unauthorised tickets via online auction house Ebay, a German official said yesterday.

For security reasons, tickets for the month-long tournament starting June 9 are personalised with the buyer's name, and are not transferable except under special circumstances. But that has not stopped a lively market from developing on the Internet.

Asked what advice he would give to a prospective Ebay buyer, German soccer chief Theo Zwanziger said: "I would just warn him he's running a risk. He's going to the stadium under a false name... and he runs the risk he will be turned away."

He dismissed a reporter's suggestion that stadium officials would in practice only be able to check a small proportion of fans' identities.

"Why are you so sure? We have a lot of stewards on the spot," Zwanziger said.

"If we have indications, firstly that the security situation is critical, and secondly that people are coming to the stadium without officially issued tickets, there will be intensive checks.

"And then those who don't have (official tickets) will be spotted, and they'll have paid a lot of money and they'll be sent home. So I'd advise them to spare themselves the frustration."

On Ebay's German website,, the top bid for a ticket for Brazil versus Australia on June 18 was 431 euros ($551) on Thursday afternoon, while a seat for Germany versus Poland on June 14 was fetching 445 euros, in both cases several times the official price.

World soccer's governing body FIFA has criticised the German organisers over the ticketing arrangements, with president Sepp Blatter expressing concern last week that ID checks would lead to excessive queues and could mean there are many empty seats.

Zwanziger told a conference in Berlin: "We did it because we believe this is an additional security factor."

He added that the organisers could have charged 50 percent more for all tickets and still sold out, but had kept prices reasonable because "we have a responsibility to the fans".

Separately, Germany's organising committee announced on Thursday that 42,495 tickets had been returned by their holders for resale. The tickets were returned by FIFA from various federations that did not use sell their full allotted amount.

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