World Cup auditing reaches fever pitch

Sven-Göran Eriksson is leaving after the World Cup and the search is on for a
new England manager.

The speculation as to who will take over is likely to reach feverish
proportions over the next few months until an announcement is made. But for fans
of the national team, the problem of trying to obtain tickets for the World Cup
tournament is a far more pressing issue.

It would be fair to say that fans will have to adopt a determined approach to
secure the prized seats. Some have paid for tickets even though there are no
guarantees they will receive them. They have only been given the option of using
a Mastercard credit card to make the payment.

In the ‘conditional’ ticketing stage, which required fans to apply for
tickets before a deadline at the end of last year, credit card details had to be
given and were debited for the cost of the tickets. They will be refunded later
if the application proves to be unsuccessful.

For those who find the official FIFA World Cup website too difficult to
fathom, and it isn’t exactly straightforward, there are a series of ticket tout
websites ready to gobble their cash in large quantities. The Football
Association has asked the police to look at up to 20 unofficial sites that are
charging £750 for individual England matches.

So plenty for Ernst & Young, the official external ticketing procedure
auditors, to get their teeth into. The firm’s Swiss branch was given the job
last month of ‘evaluating the overall ticketing project’ for the World Cup.

With six million tickets being sold and close to 700,000 orders received, the
task is huge, and it could hardly be a more high-profile task.

E&Y has relevant experience after it was asked to conduct a review of the
ticket sales for the last World Cup in Japan and South Korea, but this is a
potentially more demanding role that could bring them into the firing line if
problems arise.

The exclusivity of the application process, giving only Mastercard as the
means of payment, was heavily criticised when it was revealed last year, and the
size of the allocations to countries other than host country Germany has also
outraged many people desperate to follow their nation.

The latest ballot of tickets took place earlier this week, and eager fans
will find out over the next few days if they have been successful.

Pressure on tickets is not only a soccer phenomenon. Cricket fans hoping to
follow the England team in its attempt to retain the Ashes in Australia later
this year will have been dismayed to see reports last month that tickets for
travelling fans will be strictly limited.

Cricket’s World Cup also takes place in the West Indies next year, and the
allocation procedure for 800,000 tickets will be a tense process with an auditor
given the task of watching over it all.

E&Y certainly secured a prestigious contract when it won the right to
monitor the race for Germany tickets, but there is a danger that it could be
drawn under the spotlight if there are more problems between now and when the
first game kicks off on 9 June.

With excitement growing as the tournament nears, so might people’s anger if
the tickets are not fairly and efficiently distributed. It may not only be Sven
who gets the flak if events don’t go the right way.

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