UAE vs Qatar football tickets go from free to 40 times face value

Just hours after thousands of tickets were given out for free, fans are left to pay a fortune for seats

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Tickets for the UAE’s Asian Cup semi-final clash against Qatar are being advertised for sale at more than 40 times their face value, a day after authorities gave away thousands for free.

Last week, Abu Dhabi Sports Council purchased all remaining tickets for Tuesday's game to hand out to UAE residents, leading to huge queues forming at distribution hubs on Sunday.

Many supporters were left disappointed, with the tickets being snapped up within hours.

Supporters seeking to attend the match are turning to ticket resale websites in an attempt to secure a seat.

On resale website Viagogo on Monday morning, category one tickets, with a face value of Dh150, were being advertised for more than Dh6,300 — over four thousand per cent higher than their original purchase price. Typically, category one tickets were being listed for resale at around Dh1,350, nine times their original cost had they been bought through official channels.

Meanwhile, category two tickets, originally costing Dh75, were being advertised for sale at prices as high as Dh2,468 each, with most costing around Dh1,000.

Category three seats, with a face value of just Dh50, were also generally being advertised for around Dh1000, with some as high as Dh1,440.

The crowd for the semi-final is certain to be heavily in favour of the UAE, with only a very small number of Qatar fans in attendance at its games so far in the tournament — as a result of the political rift between the countries. A small number of Omani fans cheered on Qatar in their quarter final victory against South Korea.

Around 18,000 tickets were given away on Sunday for the match at the Mohammed Bin Zayed stadium, which has a capacity of around 42,000.

A screengrab from the Viagogo website showing tickets being resold for several times the original price. 
A screengrab from the Viagogo website showing tickets being resold for several times the original price. 

The Qatari team has been impressive so far in the tournament, scoring 12 goals and conceding none. The UAE started slowly but have grown into the tournament, defeating Australia 1-0 in their quarter final, and remain unbeaten.

Sheikh Nahyan bin Zayed, the chairman of Abu Dhabi Sports Council, directed that all remaining tickets for the semi-final be purchased by his organisation, after the UAE beat Australia, so that they could be made available to the country’s “loyal” fans.

They were to be distributed between 10am and 10pm on Sunday from hubs across the country, although they were all gone by 3pm.

Meanwhile, police in Abu Dhabi have called on supporters to show “good sportsmanship” at games and online. The first semi-final, between Japan and Iran, takes place on Monday in Al Ain with the UAE taking on Qatar in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.

“Abu Dhabi police call on the public to always show good‎ sportsmanship,” a statement said. “Supporters should cheer on their team in a civilised way and stay away from tweeting negative tweets.

“We hope everyone enjoys watching the game."