Old school ticketing could create World Cup mayhem

Fifa has decided that Confederations Cup and World Cup tickets will only be available in paper versions. But is that really what everybody wants?

As Fifa announced World Cup ticket sales information yesterday, I couldn't help but thinking that the ticketing system that will be used might well cause a lot of headaches for Brazilians and tourists alike.

Despite the fact that physical tickets are quickly becoming a thing of the past and print-at-home ticketing is used everywhere from concert halls to cinemas and airlines in Brazil, anyone attending Confederations Cup or World Cup events will have to use paper tickets.

The decision was to "repeat a formula that has worked out" in the last five World Cups: the association's marketing director Thierry Weil was quoted by Portal Brasil as saying that Fifa "knows that the world is changing and that there are applications that replace paper tickets, but we have chosen to use that version because we know that fans want to keep the ticket as a souvenir - it's a way of showing that they were part of the World Cup."

Well, here is an example of how annoying this paper ticketing business can be:

This coming Sunday, the Brazil vs. England friendly match ahead will take place at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, before the start of the Confederations Cup next month. My husband is attending the match with friends and his plan was to travel to Rio on Sunday in the morning (we are based in São Paulo) and then collect the tickets ahead of the match in the afternoon.

This week, he received a notice from the official ticketing website, saying that tickets could only be collected until the day before the match - and only at a handful of sites in Rio de Janeiro, despite it being a website that sells sporting tickets nationwide.Several calls and emails later, he received an email saying that non-Rio residents could collect their tickets at a certain location on Sunday. That information was never mentioned in that initial notice, though. Hmmm.

So what is supposed to be a straighforward ticket purchase suddenly turns into an ordeal where you are supposed to rearrange your life around some dinosauric arrangement.

Yesterday, when announcing the details around the ticket sales for the World Cup, Fifa's Weil "strongly recommended" that appointments are made online to collect the tickets at authorized locations at a certain time. That is to supposedly avoid lines and crowding at the sites.

I accept the point that those watching the games may want to keep the paper ticket as a souvenir, but the enforcement of old school tickets and the lack of an alternative seems like a big hassle to me - and my recent experience reinforces that - let alone overseas visitors who value their holiday time. And because people can't have a choice, it is quite likely that they will have to spend a lot of that time trying to sort out something that could have easily been done at home.