World Cup tickets a hot commodity in China

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With the start of the FIFA World Cup just over seven months away, sales of ticket and hospitality packages in China are booming.

Chinese fans have so far booked about 10,000 tickets for soccer's global showcase, which will be staged in 11 Russian cities from June 14 to July 15. And corporate and individual clients have snapped up about 2,000 ticket-inclusive hospitality packages for premier match experiences, according to Beijing-based Shankai Sports.

As China's only FIFA-authorized sales agent for the 2018 World Cup hospitality program, Shankai hosted a workshop in Beijing on Wednesday to present five levels of packages, ranging in price from $850 to $24,900.

Zheng Lai, vice-president of Shankai, said the unprecedented demand for tickets underscores the World Cup's popularity in China.

"With or without their national team, Chinese fans' passion for the tournament and their interest in going to the World Cup to watch their favorite players in the flesh is always strong," he said.

Sales are expected to far exceed the 2,500 packages sold for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil after more orders are filed following Friday's tournament draw ceremony in Moscow, which will allocate the 32 finalists into eight groups.

Fans who would like to arrange more affordable and flexible trips to Russia can apply for ordinary tickets and the affiliated FAN IDs online at

Registration of a FAN ID in combination with a ticket entitles foreign fans to visa-free entry to Russia starting 10 days before the opening night and free train transfers between host cities.

According to Zurich-based MATCH Hospitality, the exclusive global rights holder of FIFA's hospitality program, the FIFA website has received more than 3.5 million orders for ordinary tickets - with Chinese applicants at the forefront.

"The one takeaway that I get after visiting Asian countries is the real passion for football in the region, and China is definitely the most important market there," said John Parker, a MATCH board member.

As demand grows, legal experts are warning fans to beware that some unauthorized outlets have been selling scalped tickets on multiple online platforms.

Imran Patel, a legal counsel representing FIFA Ticketing, said FIFA has detected some unofficial agencies, such as SJG Sports and Saiday, providing unguaranteed tickets to fans in China and actions have been taken to prevent rights violations.

"It's a common problem globally, and China is a market we particularly follow," said Patel. "The passion and interest in China is growing at such a rapid rate, we have to ensure that fans who want to enjoy the World Cup can enjoy it and not be turned down in Russia.

"Every step and tool that is available has been deployed to stop these activities. The key strategy that we do is education to ensure that fans across China are well informed that there are no other official outlets for tickets other than and Shankai Sports."

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