More problems with the ticketing service at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France emerged this weekend as the tournament began play, further frustrating fans — many of whom made the trip overseas for the event — and opening up the championship to ridicule.
Spectators headed to the tournament’s first match between France and South Korea on Friday at the Parc de Princes in Paris were emailed new tickets a day earlier that they were required to print out so as to enter the stadium. The email with the subject line “FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 — Download your e-tickets!” caused confusion among fans because tickets became available for download last month.
Spectators were unclear upon reaching the stadium which tickets, originals or replacements, would secure admission. Some waited up to two hours in snaking lines at the box office, then encountered more turbulence inside as ushers were uncertain where fans should sit based on the duplicate certificates.
“Getting in the stadium was a f------ nightmare,” Sophie Durieux, a French supporter from outside Paris, told The Washington Post.
She said many fans disregarded the email that reissued tickets because they had printed out theirs weeks ago. When they couldn’t enter the stadium and needed the help of box office workers, event staff outside the stadium did not know where to send them for help.
“We waited on line and got right up to the gates where there was a bar code scanner — the tickets didn’t work,” Jennifer Doyle, who traveled from Los Angeles to attend the match, said in an email. “There were quite a few people at our gate in the same situation; this must have been happening all evening but the guards working the gates didn’t have reliable advice.
“We were sent to another gate and they didn’t know what to tell us so we got on line at the ticket office; quite a long line of people who had tickets that weren’t being recognized at the gate.”
The fiasco at the first match — it’s unclear if fans have experienced similar troubles at subsequent matches — follows another admission problem last month when tickets first became available for download. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of fans who purchased multiple World Cup tickets would not be able to sit with the other members of their groups, FIFA announced, though it’s not clear if FIFA knows how many orders are affected.
It’s an issue that has added fuel to the fire of women’s soccer fans who say FIFA has not done enough to promote the sport internationally and criticize national federations for diverting resources to men’s teams. The U.S. women’s national team is suing the U.S. Soccer Federation claiming gender discrimination. Ada Hegerberg of Norway, arguably the world’s top player, has boycotted the World Cup over alleged mistreatment of the women’s team in her home country.
Boosters say this kind of ticketing debacle could only happen at a women’s event.
“I don’t think this would ever have happened for a men’s World Cup,” Anelise Cimino, a Division I women’s college soccer referee in New Haven, Conn., whose own World Cup trip has been upended by the ticket fiasco, said in May. “They dole those seats out, and everyone knows where they’re going to be. For the Women’s World Cup, they’re just happy someone got tickets. That’s just how it’s being treated.”
FIFA representatives did not respond to a request for comment.
French soccer authorities in charge of ticketing had said they would make accommodations for minors to sit with parents, but have been unresponsive to such inquiries made by other spectators, multiple fans have told The Post.
Nick O’Brien, a teacher and soccer coach from Maine, purchased seats to the semifinals and championship match for himself, his wife, his 4-year-old daughter and two relatives, but those tickets are split between three rows. He has tried to contact FIFA six times to remedy the issue, but said he has yet to hear back.
Victoria Amira, a government worker in Ottawa, purchased tickets for herself and three friends to the Canada-Netherlands group stage match on June 20, but they were all assigned seats in different rows. She has reached out to FIFA twice without receiving a response.
“I’m more mad now than anything,” she said. “It’s completely colored my opinion of FIFA. I’ve succumbed to the idea of just standing wherever we can find to watch the game. It will be the last time I attend an international game on foreign soil.”