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3.2 million World Cup tickets RFID chipped

Counterfeiters and touts beware...
Written by Jo Best, Contributor

Counterfeiters and touts beware...

Visitors to the 2006 World Cup may not know it but each and every ticket holder will be carrying an RFID tag.

All of the 3.2 million tickets issued for this year's tournament will come equipped with an RFID chip inside, which is scanned whenever a fan arrives at the gates of any of the 12 stadiums.

According to Philips, which supplied the RFID tech, the track-and-trace chips have been included in the tickets to combat counterfeiting and ensure only those with legitimate tickets can get in to watch the matches.

Each of the tickets is now personalised with the holder's name in an effort to stop touting and prevent hooligans from getting access to World Cup matches.

Cord Bartels, business development manager at Philips, said the tickets are "bulletproof" but admitted that without installing more privacy-invasive measures, it would be impossible to kill off the black market in World Cup tickets altogether.

He told silicon.com: "If you want a 100 per cent guarantee, you need to apply biometrics but this isn't in the scope of the events at the moment." Currently, the RFID chip is linked to a reference number and holds no personal information "to avoid conversations about privacy", according to Bartels.

Other uses for the smart card style technology were mooted, including extending the functionality to allow punters to buy refreshments or parking permits with contactless payments but were eventually rejected.

Bartels added: "With the technology it's possible to do more than [ticketing] but it's quite complex and it was decided at a certain point to reduce it to just this."

Nevertheless, the RFID technology is likely to live on beyond the July final, with many of the stadiums expected to continue using the technology for ticketing domestic games.

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