Wednesday, January 18, 2006

USSF's World Cup Ticketing Nightmare

I applied for World Cup tickets through the US Soccer Federation in December. There are all kinds of arcane rules about applying. You couldn't apply both to FIFA and to USSF. If you applied through both entities, both applications would be ignored and you would not get any tickets, ever.

I chose to go through our federation because I really want to see the US play, and I figured there would be less competition than going up against the world for tickets.

Wrong, moose breath.

USSF emailed me a password on December 12th, along with a PDF file application. I could apply by either fax or overnight mail, but not email. I don't have a real fax machine at home (where I was doing my application) but I thought, I better fax this application or I'll get shut out. (This was correct.) So I went to a printing press in my little town & paid to fax my application. This was at 2:30. The guy said, I can fax it for you, but you won't get a confirmation printout. This is a new machine, and they don't do that. I should have turned around and driven to Boston, but here I made my fatal mistake. He said, the machine will just keep redialing the number until it gets through. Well, USSF had said they were prepared to accept the influx of faxes, so I said OK, send it.

I didn't get a confirmation number from US Soccer the next day, so I over-nighted my application. I knew I was in trouble when my confirmation number came back two days later: 30xxx.

Then, I waited. We were supposed to be notified by January 6th about ticket allocations. January 6th came and went. I went to bigsoccer daily and read speculation about what was going on. January 12th ussoccer finally sent out a mass email saying they would absolutely, positively inform everyone by January 14th whether we got tickets, so if you didn't, you could get into the last round of the FIFA lottery, for which applications had to be filed by 6:00 p.m. January 15th. Whew.

But January 14th, there was no email. I left my email program on & hit refresh every 15 minutes or so as the Patriots went down in defeat to the Broncos. No email from ussoccer. Finally, I went to bed, resigned that I would have to file a FIFA application by 6:00 p.m. tomorrow without knowing if I had received tix.

When I got up on the 15th, I found a ussoccer email, sent to me at 1:49 a.m. on Sunday. I got shut out of the group round. No tickets for US-Italy, US-Czech republic, US-Ghana. But, oh, lucky me, I got awarded tickets to the later rounds (for which the US is unlikely to qualify, let's be honest here) and get to carry the charges on my credit card until then:

The following tickets will be issued to you.

Quarter Finals
4 -Category II

Semi Finals
4 -Category III

4 -Category III

So, I submitted my application to the FIFA lottery on Sunday. Very few tickets are left, but a girl can dream, can't she?

Maybe I should get a job at Home Depot. Supposedly the sponsors of the US Soccer got all the Category I tickets, as very few were allocated to the humble fans.

This was a poorly designed process. It's impossible to have "first come, first served" when (a) you have different methods of applying, as here, fax and mail; and (b) you do not have the technology adequate to receive the applications. I wonder how many faxed applications USSF actually received that first day. I wonder how many people were, like me, unable to get through?

This would have been easily solved if USSF had simply accepted applications by email. Since everyone who applied needed to be able to receive the password by email, everyone who applied had to have access to a computer.

I got screwed because I couldn't get through via my ancient fax machine. So I fedexed & got no tickets. No, worse than that, I have been charged through the nose for conditional tickets to the later rounds, which realistically the US is unlikely to reach.

I wonder how many tickets the USSF hierarchy allocated to themselves? I'm sure we'll see the whole group at the games. Bastards.

I'm not the only one who feels used and abused by the USSF process:

From We Call It Soccer, two posts: The USSF is Turning Our Hair Gray and Giving Us Tumors. And Tickets.

The USSF Ticket Debacle, For the Record and in Perspective

And two more from My Soccer Blog: The ticket sale that just will not end

More on US World Cup Tickets

And in the end, I find myself paraphrasing Don Rumsfield, of all people: You go to the World Cup with the Federation you have.

It could be worse. I could be from Trinidad and Tobago. The country's entire allocation of tickets was sold to a Vice President of FIFA, also the President of CONCACAF, Jack Warner, who coincidentally owns a travel agency. The entire allocation. So if you want a $200 ticket to the T&T game v. England, you have to buy a $4000 travel package from Mr. Warner, who stands to make millions from this major scam.

No comments: