A German fan holds World Cup 2006 tickets.

PHOTO GALLERY: World Cup tickets wanted
Some of the more creative ticket-seeking fans on the streets of Germany

KAI RYSSDAL: If you've been Tivo'ing the World Cup so you can watch when you get home, this might be a good time to turn down the radio. Give us three minutes or so. . . . Last chance . . . Alright, the US team is done. It's out. Comin' home. Lost today to Ghana, in front of about 45,000 fans.

The tickets were hard to come by. Would-be spectators had to provide passports or ID numbers. The tickets, themselves, have microchips in them. And they're registered to specific individuals. All of that to prevent scalping. Jamie Trecker from Fox Sports was at the game.

Jamie, not such a good day for the Americans, hmm?

JAMIE TRECKER: Well, no, certainly not for the United States. I'm sure the Ghanaians are quite happy. You know, the US needed to win today. They lost, 2-1. Just couldn't get it done and couldn't punch the ticket.

RYSSDAL: Now, obviously, you had press passes. Not a problem for you to get in. What about everybody else there, though. I mean, the whole ticket thing with this World Cup's been kind of interesting.

TRECKER: It has, actually. You know, obviously, FIFA has made a real effort to cut down on counterfeiting. There was a couple of people, in fact, arrested just the other day with some counterfeit tickets. What has happened, unfortunately, is that because there was such a demand for tickets — about 30 times the actual number sold — that ticket swappings have certainly been still doing a business. And it became very clear early on that the Germans couldn't check every ticket individually no matter what they wanted to do. In fact, one of FIFA's own people, the president of the Bhotswana soccer federation, got busted for scalping a ticket for the small sum of $380 and was sent home.

RYSSDAL: So, how's it working? You walk up to the stadium and you need a ticket, do you have to give your passport to the scalper and then he jots down your information? How does that swap work?

TRECKER: No, actually, what happened was that the authorities decided that that was going to be too cumbersome. So, basically, if you've got a ticket, you can walk in. From what we've been told, even if the name on the ticket doesn't match what's supposed to be in the databank, they're letting people in anyway. I know there was a case of a couple English fans who bought some tickets, and they did get a random check, and they were let in anyway.

RYSSDAL: Now, you mention the English fans — and not, obviously, to paint everybody with one brush here — but what I've been reading is that they wanted these controls at least in part to keep some of the hooligans out.

TRECKER: That true. And I think they also wanted to make sure that they controlled the flow of money, to be honest. Ticket reselling is a big business and the secondary market . . . obviously there's a lot of money to be made on key games. For example, the Brazil game against Australia was fetching up around 2,500 euros. You could have gotten, I guess, 500 bucks for the USA-Italy ticket. That's a lot of money if you consider the tickets top out at around 100 to 200 euros.

RYSSDAL: But despite all this, it's the guys in the street who are getting a lot of the money.

TRECKER: That's true. And, you know, there are some very organized totes that come in from England, primarily, and have bought up a lot of tickets. They are supplying both people on the street, they're supplying tour operators who over-promised to people they sold packages to. They're supplying anybody who, perhaps, bought a ticket for a game by lottery and didn't get a team they wanted and wanted to trade to, you know, the team they actually support.

RYSSDAL: Before I let you go Jamie . . . Just, you know, hypothetically, how much you figure you can get for your press pass?

TRECKER: Well, my press pass would be useless because it's got my picture on it. And I'm fairly ugly so I don't think anybody would want to identify themselves with me.

RYSSDAL: Jamie Trecker from Fox Sports. Thanks a lot, Jamie.

TRECKER: Thank you, very much.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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