A serial ticket tout from Liverpool has been arrested for breaching a banning order by re-selling tickets during the 2022 World Cup of Qatar.
Ticket touting has long been a problem in the world of football, with unscrupulous individuals looking to profit from fans desperate to see their favourite teams in action. Despite numerous attempts by authorities to crack down on the practice, it remains a persistent issue within the sport.
One such offender is Stuart O’Brien, an 48-year-old man from Liverpool. O’Brien has now been jailed for 12 weeks after breaching a 5-year football banning order that was imposed on him for previous ticket touting. O’Brien was spotted at last year’s World Cup in Qatar, despite having been required to surrender his passport due to his previous conviction.
According to Merseyside Police, he was seen selling tickets to matches in Qatar in clear violation of his banning order. The fact that he was able to make it all the way to Qatar and continue his illegal activities highlights the difficulties that law enforcement agencies face in trying to prevent ticket touting at major events worldwide.
The original banning order was handed down in February 2021, after O’Brien was convicted of reselling tickets to various matches, with his arrest taking place before a Liverpool vs Southampton game. He was apprehended along with 2 other suspects, and was found to be in possession of multiple season tickets and around £1,300 in cash.
Assistant Chief Constable Paul White said: “We welcome this sentencing as O’Brien clearly displayed a flagrant disregard to court orders by traveling to Qatar and selling tickets.
I hope this sends a clear message and act as a deterrent to others that we will be put you before the courts if you are seen breaching a football order.”
These arrests and subsequent prosecutions will no doubt serve as a warning to others involved in the resale of match tickets, although it is not expected that the issue will disappear in football anytime soon. According to the Home Office, there were just 13 arrests made in regard to the offence during the 2021/2022 season, and this number has been steadily going down year-on-year.
For example, during the 2013/2014 season 104 arrests were made on individuals reselling official match tickets. Despite this decrease in the amount of arrests being made on those looking to profit from illicit ticket sales, it is still regarded as a widespread problem both in the UK and in football as a whole.
Whether any further efforts to prevent this particular white-collar crime, or what those efforts would look like, remain to be seen. For those who do partake in the business of selling match tickets, O’Brien’s recent sentencing should serve as a stark warning about the consequences involved.