No tendering for World Cup tix contract
By Andrew Jennings
Sunday November 13, 2011
A family-owned company with long-standing links to FIFA president Sepp Blatter and his nephew Philippe Blatter has been awarded 450,000 of the best tickets for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, despite the disastrous performance of their corporate hospitality programme in South Africa last year.
Mexican brothers Jaime and Enrique Byrom, based in Cheadle, Cheshire, have been doing ticketing business with FIFA since 1986. They own 85% of MATCH Hospitality and Philippe Blatter’s Zug-based Infront company has 5%.
‘The most suitable candidate’
MATCH did not have to tender for the business. FIFA has announced that ‘Following an industry evaluation conducted by FIFA, MATCH Hospitality emerged as the most suitable candidate.’ FIFA have also granted them the Hospitality concession for Russia 2018 and Qatar in 2022.
The Japanese Dentsu group who were partners in the now bankrupt ISL marketing company which paid kickbacks worth $100 million to sports officials, mostly at FIFA, also has a 5% holding in MATCH.
The Byroms say in confidential communications to ticket agents that they expect their packages will be snapped up by ‘FTSE top 250 companies and high-net-worth individuals.’
The most expensive will be in private suites where high roller fans will occupy luxury seats, be offered ‘a deluxe bar and catering, a commemorative gift, preferred parking, a deluxe hospitality kit and welcome hostesses.’
12,000 tickets for the Final
The not quite so wealthy will be in ‘Special padded Business Seats’ with ‘premier bar service and high quality catering.’ Next down the Hospitality scale is Pavilion seats. Clients can expect ‘Basic Bar Service and catering.’ The cheapest deal, Premium seats, will be Category 1 tickets, basic catering, snacks and no hostesses. Some prices have been announced – including up to $2.3 million for luxury suites in Rio, Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte.
The Byroms have a remarkable 12,000 Hospitality tickets for the Opening Game, a further 12,000 for Brazil’s two other Group games and another 110,500 for the other Top Seed matches. If Brazil goes forward to the next round of 16 teams they will play 2 games and the Byroms have 20,000 for these. FIFA have also given them another 33,000 tickets for other games in this round.
If Brazil qualify for the quarter finals the Byroms have another 20,000 tickets for their two games – and a further 16,000 for other quarter final games. At the semi-final stage they have another 24,000 tickets for the two games. For the Final in Rio they have at least 12,000.
In South Africa last year the Byroms’ were given 380,000 tickets for their Hospitality packages. With 70,000 more in Brazil they will hope to clear some of their estimated €50 million losses from 2010.
Despite the attraction of the World Cup being staged in Brazil, it may throw up similar problems. In their confidential information to their agents MATCH point out ‘the tournament will require significant long-distance travel for teams, officials, the media and supporters.’
This was the case in South Africa and there were concerns about MATCH’s charges of $755 for flights between venues. The cheap, no-frills Kulula airline stepped in, offering similar flights for between $140 and $196 and cheekily trying to sidestep FIFA-inspired legislation outlawing ambush marketing, advertised themselves as ‘The Unofficial National Carrier of the You-Know-What.’
Kulula received a threatening letter from FIFA lawyers, claiming the advert breached South African law ‘by seeking to gain a promotional benefit for the Kulula brand by creating an unauthorised association with the 2010 FIFA World Cup.’
Days later the airline posted a cheeky, new ad for their flights, ‘Not next year, not last year, but somewhere in between.’ No action was taken against them.
Unauthorised dealers in the secondary market – the ‘Black market’ - say that MATCH’s other charges priced them out of much of the market.
Good luck for Danny’s brother
The Byroms, in their contract with their world-wide agents for 2014 are trying to scupper the secondary market, insisting that ‘Officially appointed Sales Agents will also be obliged to report to MATCH Hospitality any instances or occurrence of unauthorised sales of tickets including hospitality packages for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.’
In 2010 one of the agents appointed by MATCH to sell their packages was Samson Adamu, a son of the now disgraced Nigerian FIFA executive committee member Amos Adamu, caught in a newspaper sting seeking a bribe for his vote in the contest to host the 2022 World Cup.
There was controversy in South Africa last year when it was revealed that Andrew Jordaan, brother of World Cup chief organiser Danny Jordaan, had been appointed by MATCH Event Services to act as its liaison in Port Elizabeth for R200 000 a month. (£15,709.6)
In other lucrative concessions from FIFA the Byroms were awarded contracts to manage all the ticket sales for the World Cup in Korea/Japan and again last year in South Africa. In Brazil they will be producing, selling and distributing the remaining 3.2 million tickets.