The Malta Independent 24 August 2019, Saturday

World Cup ticket buyers discovering seats aren't together

Associated Press Tuesday, 21 May 2019, 07:40 Last update: about 4 months ago

Fans planning to attend the Women's World Cup in France are finding out that the seats they bought might not be together.

Tickets were made available to print Monday and ticket holders learned that their seats were sometimes split up in separate rows and even sections — even families with young children were separated.

Seamus Campbell, who lives in Portland, Oregon, bought five tickets for the semifinals and finals in Lyon. Three seats are in a single row, but with a random individual seat breaking up the group, while another seat is two rows back and the last is in a row behind that.

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Campbell also purchased three tickets for matches in Paris — two are together and the other is separate.

"It's just astonishing that they didn't find a way to put blocks of tickets together. And I appreciate that there are a lot of tickets, and they're selling them all at once, but I just can't fathom how you would end up — and I'm a software developer — I don't know how you would build a system that said, 'We have three seats that are almost together but we're gonna put one single seat in between those three.'"

The tournament starts June 7 and runs through July 7.

FIFA, soccer's international governing body, responded on the verified Women's World Cup Twitter account, posting: "Dear fans. We have noted some of your comments, re: your tickets. When you placed your order, a message indicating not all seats would be located next to each other did appear, before confirmation of your purchase. Unfortunately we will not be able to modify your order."

An additional post said: "However, an exception could be made for parents whose seats are not next to the seats of their underage children (18 years old and younger)." The post included the email address for the event's local organizing committee and a phone number for customer service.

FIFA did not immediately respond to a request from The Associated Press for comment. FIFA's website includes the disclaimer: "The Local Organizing Committee of France under the legal entity of Comité local d'organisation des coupes du monde féminines FIFA 2018 et 2019 who has assigned AP2S as the online ticket seller is solely responsible for all transactional and data collection aspects of your purchase for the FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019."

AP2S did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

Late Monday, FIFA updated its social media account with two additional posts.

"The previous tweets regarding FIFA Women's World Cup tickets allocation were published without a full understanding of the situation and we apologise for that. The issues were faced by less than 1% of fans requesting tickets for the semifinals and the final," the post read. "FIFA and the Local Organising Committee are confident the problems will be solved and the fans will be able to enjoy the matches as they envisaged."

However, The Associated Press interviewed fans who had tickets for matches in the group and knockout stages, and had similar seat issues. One group of four was given four separated seats for a match in Paris, while a group of three was given just two seats together for an early match.

It's customary for most sporting events to allow fans to either automatically receive or choose seats that are together. There was a limit on the number of World Cup tickets that could be purchased by a single buyer.

The situation could cause problems in the stadiums before games, when fans may try to swap seats to sit next to friends or family members. Separated families might also become an issue if a security concern should arise.

Jessica Russell, who is from Utah, said she bought two tickets as a package for the semifinals and final in Lyon. She said she was disappointed to see the seats are separated.

"It would be nice to sit with who you bought the tickets with," she said. "We'll try to see if people will switch with people around us. But if not, we'll just deal with it."

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