FIFA Files Criminal Complaint Against Viagogo

World football’s governing body, FIFA, has filed a criminal complaint against the Swiss online ticket resale platform Viagogo after receiving “numerous complaints” over its “opaque and deceptive” practices.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - OCTOBER 05: Fans show off their tickets prior to the FIFA 2018 World Cup Group F Qualifier between Scotland and Slovakia at Hampden Park on October 5, 2017 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images)

Zurich-based FIFA said in a statement on Tuesday that it had acted to protect the fans and prevent unauthorised ticket resales for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, which begins on June 14.

“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 said. FIFA has filed the complaint, based on the law on unfair competition, with the public prosecutor’s office in Geneva, where the online platform has its headquarters.

“FIFA’s ultimate objective in the fight against the secondary ticket market is to prioritise the safety and security of fans and enforce a fair 2018 FIFA World Cup ticketing pricing scheme,” it added.

The governing body said its own website was the only official, legitimate place to buy World Cup tickets, which are on sale until July 15, the final day of the tournament.

“FIFA regards the illicit sale and distribution of tickets as a serious issue,” it said.

“Tickets purchased via unauthorised distribution channels, including all tickets purchased through Viagogo AG, will be cancelled once identified. FIFA reserves the right to refuse entry to the stadium to any holder of such tickets.”

Viagogo is a global online platform that re-sells tickets for live sport, music and entertainment events. It resells tickets being sold by other consumers who no longer want them or who wish to sell them for a profit.

On Tuesday, tickets for the World Cup were still being sold on the Viagogo site ranging from $89.09 for Iceland vs Croatia on June 26 to $14,000 for a ticket for the final on July 15.

Earlier this year, FIFA successfully filed for a temporary injunction against Viagogo for advertising tickets to the World Cup before they had been allocated or issued.

Viagogo is also currently under investigation by National Trading Standards in Britain after it was found to have failed to make compulsory fees sufficiently clear.