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Rio Police Target Ticket Scalpers a Week Before World Cup

Maracana Stadium
Fans watch a match at newly-renovated Maracana Stadium during the Campeonato Carioca tournament in Rio de Janeiro on April 6, 2014. Photographer: Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg

Rio de Janeiro police are clamping down on ticket scalpers less than a week before soccer’s World Cup begins.

The city’s tourist police, known as DEAT, said yesterday they had arrested two people in as many days for advertising tickets online at inflated prices. Charging more than face value for a ticket is a crime in Brazil.

Tickets priced at $440 for the July 13 final are being advertised for resale on Geneva-based ticket exchange Viagogo for at least $4,782. Tournament organizer FIFA has said it is the only authorized reseller and doesn’t allow ticket holders to charge a premium for their tickets. World soccer’s governing body has said it will scrap tickets if it can identify sellers on other platforms.

FIFA has sold almost 3 million tickets for the 64-game monthlong event, including seats for corporate sponsors such as Visa Inc. and Coca-Cola Co.

One of the people arrested was a 29-year-old Brazilian woman who advertised tickets for 600 reais ($264), 20 times their face value, police said in a statement. The other was a man from Argentina, who is accused of trying to charge up to 1,300 reais for tickets to games at Rio’s Maracana stadium, police said in a separate statement.

Fans “paying a fortune” for tickets through Viagogo “will be disappointed” when their tickets are rejected at stadiums, Thierry Weil, FIFA’s marketing director, said in an interview. FIFA has already identified some tickets being sold on the platform and invalidated them, he said.

“Our customers can buy World Cup tickets with absolute confidence because we have a process in place which guarantees that they will receive a valid ticket,” Viagogo spokesman Oliver Wheeler said in an e-mail. Some tickets are as cheap as $19.30, he said.

Brazil, the bookmakers’ favorite to win a record-extending sixth World Cup, will play Croatia in the tournament’s opening game on June 12.

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