FIFA caught backlash on Monday after it was revealed fans who bought group tickets to the Women’s World Cup would be split up at the stadiums.
In a statement Tuesday to Yahoo, FIFA downplayed the issue as affecting only a small number of fans:
At the FIFA Women’s World Cup, tickets for a limited number of matches such as the semi-finals and final are in very high demand. In some cases, when matches were almost sold out, the only tickets remaining were for individual seats. Of the 1.3 million tickets on sale for the tournament it is estimated that not having side-by-side seats will affect only a very small number of fans.
FIFA and the Local Organizing Committee are continuing to work towards finding the best solution for all fans attending the FIFA Women’s World Cup and, in particular, are doing everything they can to ensure that families will always be seated together at each and every match.
Any ticket holders with questions or concerns on the subject should not hesitate to contact the customer helpdesk at:
Phone +33 (0) 9 70 25 55 55
by email email@example.com
Many fans who reached out to Yahoo with split tickets said they bought their tickets during a presale for Visa cardholders or on the first day that ticket packages were made available in October.
Yahoo has followed up with a request for clarification.
The official FIFA Women's World Cup Twitter account was flooded Monday with messages from confused and angry fans who received seats away from their family, including parents unable to sit next to their children.
FIFA, however, said it will not be moving seats to allow people to sit with their loved ones. The organization went on to say that families with underage children "could" be granted an exception if they called customer service.
Some fans have sent their ticket confirmations to Yahoo Sports, which show not only large groups being split up but couples, too.
One fan who bought the Champions Package, which includes tickets to both semifinal matches and the final, won’t sit near his wife. The couple will be separated for all three matches and won't even be sitting in the same sections. The fan, who asked not to be named, will have to enter a different gate than his wife for the games, according to the directions printed on the ticket. One ticket is in section 122 and another is in section 425, a level up.
Other fans affected by FIFA's policy have made out better, but are still frustrated. One fan who sent her tickets to Yahoo will be seated in the same section as her two friends, but different rows: one in row 2, one in row 3 and one in row 12.
Another fan being split up from her group of friends told Yahoo: "I attended the men's World Cup in Brazil and the Women's World Cup in Vancouver and did not have this issue."
U.S. men’s star Jozy Altidore took to Twitter to express his own frustration with the situation:
Some fans reported that they did call FIFA to fix the issue and were told they can try to trade with fans when they get there:
Well, I called that number earlier and was told there was nothing I could do other than asking people to move once we got to the match or selling my tickets!
— Ian Cox (@ij_cox) May 20, 2019
Do you really think that people traveling from other continents speaking all kinds of different languages are going to be satisfied with this? What happens in the case of an emergency at a stadium?
— Keith Naas (@knaas) May 20, 2019
Caitlin Murray is a contributor to Yahoo Sports and her book about the U.S. women’s national team, The National Team: The Inside Story of the Women Who Changed Soccer, is out now. Follow her on Twitter @caitlinmurr.
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