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SBD Global/March 31, 2014/International Football

Football Tourism Fuels Second-Hand Ticket Market, Merchandise Sales At Clásico

The latest Clásico between Real Madrid and Barcelona was played in front of a capacity crowd at Madrid's Bernabéu stadium, announced at 81,044, "included thousands of foreign fans with no links to Spain or to either club," according to Raphael Minder of the N.Y. TIMES. But they had one thing in common: "All were willing to pay hefty sums to watch some of the world’s best players in one of the year’s marquee games." In Spain, "a long and painful economic crisis coupled with the chance to make a quick profit has created a ready market for such fans." Many season-ticket holders, however passionate about their clubs, "now choose to sell their tickets for marquee matchups like the Clásico to agencies and other middlemen, who resell them worldwide." The reselling of tickets by otherwise faithful local fans is "a trend not limited to Spanish soccer." But the new reality "might have been most obvious near the Bernabéu on Sunday, where conversations in English, Arabic, Hebrew, Russian and German competed with those in Spanish." Spectators "bought scarves that blended the colors of Real Madrid and Barcelona -- game-day souvenirs that each club’s die-hard fans would probably never be willing to buy." Real Madrid "would not estimate how many foreigners filled the Bernabéu." But the seats are almost entirely in the hands of Madrid’s season-ticket holders, a spokesperson said, so “only a few” can be bought directly from the club for such a big game. For Barcelona, 85,000 of the roughly 99,000 seats in the team’s stadium, Camp Nou, "are held by season-ticket holders." Fans "can sell their tickets back to the club, which will then put them up for sale and split the revenue, 50-50, with the ticket holder" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/27).
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