Israeli Government Cancels Controversial Ticket Pre-sale for National Team's Soccer Match vs. Argentina

Israeli culture minister heavily criticized for arranging a presale of 200 tickets for ministry employees; state watchdog to look into ticket sales

Regev in a conference in Sderot, March 2018
Ilan Assayag

The Culture and Sports Ministry has retracted the pre-purchase it had arranged of up 200 tickets ahead of the friendly soccer game between Israel and Argentina. The move followed complaints by many soccer fans about the scarcity of tickets as well as the State Comptroller's announcement that he would look into the sale of tickets for the game.

The Ministry was able to purchase tickets after the Ministry managed to move the game moved from the Sami Ofer Stadium in Haifa to the Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem, thus becoming one of the producers and funders of the event. The Ministry paid 2.7 million shekels ($760,000), taken from the fund for the 70th Independence Day festivities, in order to compensate the original organizers for expenses associated with changing venues. Minister Regev, whose office retracted the tickets reluctantly, said in a radio interview Monday morning: "200 tickets? That's what caused the hysteria? Are you calm now? I don't get what we did wrong, I wouldn't have given up on those tickets."

Lionel Messi in an Argentina national match in Moscow, November 2017
Ivan Sekretarev/AP

Last week it was announced that more than half the tickets for the game were not for sale. Haaretz learned that at least 15,000 of the 31,000 stadium seats were allocated to the sponsors of the event, the Football (Soccer) Association and other invitees.

Out of the 15,000 tickets given to sponsors, the Football Association received 7,500 tickets for sale or distribution at their discretion, including 5,000 tickets that were allocated for national team subscribers, 1,500 for sale by the Association and 1,000 for invitees.