FAI applies for designation of Portugal game under ticket touting law

Varadkar says officials to meet FAI, GAA and IRFU about designating future events

The designation, once processed, will have no effect as the law does not apply to tickets sold prior to designation, and the game has been already sold out. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

The designation, once processed, will have no effect as the law does not apply to tickets sold prior to designation, and the game has been already sold out. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) has applied for the designation of Ireland’s upcoming clash against Portugal under the new law that criminalises ticket touting.

However the designation, once processed, will have no effect as the law does not apply to tickets sold prior to designation, and the game has been already sold out.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, the Minister for Enterprise, said he expects the FAI’s application to be processed “within a couple of days” but expressed a hope it can happen sooner.

He said that until the FAI application is processed it is not illegal to sell tickets at a higher value.

Mr Varadkar said the tickets for the match are largely sold already and he is keen to be proactive about other events happening in November.

Mr Varadkar said officials from his Department are to meet representatives from major venues like the Aviva Stadium and Croke Park as well as the FAI, GAA and IRFU to “impress on them the advantages” of having events designated.

He said there are rugby internationals and other soccer matches coming up and “we want to make sure that as many of them get designated as possible”.

Mr Varadkar said: “The FAI have put that application in now. Perhaps they should have done it sooner perhaps we should have acted sooner.

“But... this is new legislation and those meetings are going to happen over the next couple of days”.

He said promoters, venues and the Government are “still finding our way through” the Sale of Tickets Bill and the Department will be taking a “more proactive approach” including talking to concert promoters.

New law

During the summer the Government introduced the law that makes it an offence to sell on tickets for a designated event.

The law comes into effect when the organisers of an event successfully apply to have it designated, or when the operators of a particular venue successfully apply to have the venue designated.

Notices are placed in Iris Oifigiúil once a venue or event is designated, so that the operators of websites such as Viagogo, where tickets are often put up for sale, can know which tickets are not legally available for trading purposes.

Tickets for Ireland’s home game against Portugal next month are selling online for substantially more than face value.

“The FAI is aware that tickets for the Portugal match are currently being offered for resale at inflated prices online,” the association said in a statement.

“We remind fans who purchase tickets from a third-party website or any unauthorised seller that they risk not receiving a ticket at all or being denied entry with an invalid ticket. We urge fans not to purchase tickets from these sources.”

The soccer association said it will continue to work with Government to combat the illegal resale of tickets “and yesterday applied to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment to designate the Ireland v Portugal game as an event which comes under the auspices of the recently introduced Sale of Tickets Act 2021 legislation.”

Ball dropped

The match is to take place in the Aviva Stadium on Lansdowne Road, Dublin, which is jointly operated by the FAI and the Irish Rugby Football Union.

Both organisations were engaged with the Government during the run-up to the passing of the new law.

“It appears that the ball was dropped at the Aviva/FAI side of this one,” said one source, referring to the failure to have the match designated prior to the tickets going on sale yesterday.

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland today, Senator Garret Ahern of Fine Gael called on the IRFU to designate the forthcoming Ireland and New Zealand rugby international so as to ensure tickets are not sold for more than their face value.

Senator Ahearn said the responsibility for the inflated prices for the Portugal game rested with the FAI who had failed to designate either the event or the venue.

Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Workers’ Rights, Enterprise, Trade, and Employment, Louise O’Reilly called on the Government to designate the upcoming rugby match as protected if the IRFU did not do so.

Ms O’Reilly said that it was clear that the Tánaiste could designate an event and that the Government should act as only three applications had been made by venues or organisers up to the end of September.

“If the industry is not going to be proactive then the Government should be,” she said.

The legislation applies to sporting and cultural events, including such events as open air music festivals and concerts.

Officials from the Department of Enterprise Trade and Employment are to meet with the operators of the Aviva to discuss having the stadium designated.

Minister of State Robert Troy, speaking on Today with Claire Byrne, said either he or the Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar, could have applied for the designation but he felt it was right to give the new legislation a “bedding-in process.”

He was, he said, “disappointed and annoyed” that designation had not been sought for the Portugal game.

Designation could not apply retrospectively, but he would work with the FAI and the IRFU to make the Aviva a designated venue, he said.

The registration process was available online, was free of charge, and could be completed within a matter of minutes, he said.

There were nine tickets for sale on the Viagogo site this morning, ranging in price from €188 to €327. Tickets for the game originally went on sale for prices of between €15 and €120.