FIFA has filed a criminal complaint against Viagogo over its conduct in the run up to the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Football’s governing body said it has received numerous complaints from individuals, consumer protection bodies and other market players about “opaque and deceptive” Viagogo, which was last week referred to the UK’s National Trading Standards for non-compliance with transparency regulations.

FIFA filed a criminal complaint on Monday based on a breach of the law on unfair competition against Viagogo with the public prosecutor’s office in Geneva

FIFA acted after aligning with other stakeholders that have already filed criminal complaints against Viagogo in Switzerland due to the company’s unfair business practices.

FIFA is reportedly looking to “prioritise the safety and security of fans and enforce a fair 2018 FIFA World Cup ticketing pricing scheme.”

“FIFA regards the illicit sale and distribution of tickets as a serious issue and views the security implications of the unauthorised transfer and/or resale of tickets as being of paramount importance,” FIFA said in a statement.

“In light of the above, we encourage fans not to purchase tickets from unauthorised platforms/sellers.”

Recently, FIFA has held talks with UEFA, the European governing body, in order to coordinate action against unauthorised platforms and establish cooperation with the Fédération romande des consommateurs (FRC), the consumer protection association for French-speaking Switzerland, which is a strong advocate against ticket sales conducted through unauthorised sources.

FIFA reiterated that FIFA.com/tickets is the only official and legitimate website on which to buy World Cup tickets.

It added: “Tickets purchased via unauthorised distribution channels, including all tickets purchased through viagogo AG, will be cancelled once identified. FIFA reserves the right to refuse entry to the stadium to any holder of such tickets.

“During the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, FIFA and local authorities will conduct strict admission checks.”

Last week, Viagogo was referred to National Trading Standards and could face a prosecution after failing to comply with the advertising watchdog’s transparency criteria.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) claims that the controversial secondary ticketing firm is continuing to use misleading pricing after its deadline to make changes to its website by May 29 passed.

Viagogo could face hefty fines and prosecution for continuing to be unclear about its extra booking fees and delivery charges added on at the end.

Image: Tsutomu Takasu