World Cup Stampede Starts
By Dan Harrison, The Sidney Morning Herald
Posted June 9, 2006 - 1:58PM
German tourist offices are overwhelmed and Qantas is reporting a
massive rise in demand for services between Australia and Germany
as soccer fans head overseas for the World Cup, with or without
Traute Tuckfeld, of the German National Tourism Office in Sydney
estimates that between 50 and 60,000 Australians will converge on
Germany for the most-watched sporting event on earth.
Ms Tuckfeld, who has been overwhelmed by requests for tourist
information since the Socceroos qualified for the tournament, said
she had never seen so much interest in Germany in her 18 years in
"Since November... our telephone doesn't stand still...
it's amazing," she said.
Travel companies offering package tours to the tournament have
also been inundated with interest.
Warren Livingstone of the Sydney-based Fanatics Sports &
Party Tours, the official operator of Football Federation Australia
travel, said he received 100,000 applications for 7,000 available
packages. Most of his guests were leaving Australia today and
tomorrow, he said.
Ballarat company Australian Sports Tours, which is taking more
than 100 people to Germany on its packages, already has a group in
France sightseeing ahead of the Socceroos' match against Japan on
AST director Sean Lynch said another group would leave Australia
Angela Hatzirodos, the manager of Collingwood's Pie in the Sky
travel arm, quickly sold her available packages to about 50 guests,
most of whom are leaving the country tonight.
A Qantas spokesperson said demand on the airline's services
between Australia and Frankfurt for the World Cup period were up
60% on the same period last year.
And Germany will get a double dose of Aussies, as much of the
large UK-based expat community join their countrymen and women on
Many are embarking on their adventure without tickets. Football
Australia's allocation of a few thousand tickets for each
Australian match were snapped up in minutes last year, leaving
disappointed fans to scour websites or try their luck with scalpers
at the grounds.
Sydney carpenter Darren Glover is one such optimist. He emerged
empty-handed from the official ballots but has gone to Germany
regardless to try his luck.
"A lot of tickets become available obviously the closer it gets.
That way, whoever hasn't got a ticket's got a bit more bargaining
power. The closer it gets to the start of the match, they're going
to be a bit more flexible with price," he says.
But those who try to buy tickets through unofficial channels
might receive a rude shock. Tickets have been issued in the name of
the original buyer and encoded with their passport information, and
FIFA says fans must bring identification to the stadium to gain
Whether it will be practical for security staff to check the
identification of thousands of fans as they enter the stadium
remains to be seen, but Neil Wallace from Australian supporters
group, the Green and Gold Army is advising fans against taking the
"I think that they will check them. And I don't think that
there'll be much chance for scalpers to do their work out the front
of the ground. If I was there I'd be extremely wary of buying a
ticket from unauthorised outlets. I think FIFA have clamped down
and I think Germans being Germans they'll be pretty strict on it,"
The internet is another option for those with deep pockets and a
willingness to take a gamble with their hard-earned cash.
On auction website ebay, two category three tickets for
Australia's clash against Brazil are advertised for $1225, more
than seven times their official selling price.
But this is a bargain compared to the prices demanded by foreign
ticket brokers, who source hard-to-get tickets from sponsors and
other organisations and resell them at a premium.
At Oslo-based euroteam.info, tickets to the same match start at
990 euros each ($1712) and climb to 1390 euros ($2404) for a
hospitality package that includes a champagne reception and
three-course meal. At US site razorgator.com, only "prestige"
packages are offered, at $US1178 ($1586).
Football Australia advises fans against scouting online for
tickets, warning they may end up with nothing to show for their
"We strongly advise not to use online ticket brokers as we have
heard countless stories over the years of fans who purchased
tickets only for them not to eventuate," a Football Australia
FIFA says the problem of fraudulent or non-existent tickets
being offered over the internet is a growing one, and have set up a
to warn fans of the scams.
"We want to show the red card to these fraudulent practices,"
says Erwin Hetger, federal police president for the German state of
"If you are desperate to watch the games live, do not go looking
for a so-called 'bargain'. Otherwise, instead of enjoying the game,
you could be mourning your lost money."
FIFA says World Cup ticket fraud has already cost fans almost
100,000 euros in Germany alone.
But it will take a lot to deter passionate fans like Darren
"I've got more chance of getting a ticket over there than I have
sitting at home and watching it on telly... and the atmosphere
over there is going to be great anyway," he says