Game Over: Soccer Fans Who Bought Argentina-Israel Tickets May Not Get Refunded

Chains and large corporations who bought in bulk will probably be refunded, but anyone who bought from scalpers is likely out of luck

Barcelona's Lionel Messi reacts during the Champions League Quarter Final, Rome, Italy, April 10, 2018.

The cancellation of the scheduled soccer friendly between Argentina and Israel in Jerusalem has upset many soccer fans in Israel, but those who bought tickets have a very tangible concern: the fate of the money they plunked down for a glimpse of Lionel Messi.

Intense interest in Argentina’s national soccer team led to all 25,000 tickets available to the public being snatched less than half an hour after they went on sale. Prices ranged from 93 shekels for general admission to 830 for a so-called golden ticket that included parking adjacent to the stadium.

Sponsors also received a healthy share of tickets. Supermarket chain Super-Sol received 4,000 tickets, 1,500 of which were allocated for company employees. Additionally, The Fox Group, which is not a sponsor, acquired 2,000 tickets for distribution to youth in peripheral areas and various non-profits. Bank Hapoalim, Hisense and supermarket chain Yohananof also purchased a substantial number of tickets.

Refunding the chains and large corporations will probably be relatively easy. According to Ofra Levy, the legal adviser of consumer advocate association Emun Hatzibur, Comtec Congress Management is responsible for refunding ticket purchases.

“The office has already announced that it would refund money to ticket purchasers,” Levy said. “The office will also have to settle accounts with the state regarding the costs that it incurred,” she noted, referring to the 2.7 million shekels ($757,000) the state promised to pay match organizers to cover the costs of moving it from Haifa’s Sami Ofer Stadium to Jerusalem’s Teddy Stadium.

However, the big losers will be the fans who did not buy their tickets directly from the box office or official ticket purveyors but rather from scalpers.

“Anyone who bought from scalpers has a problem because it is a gray area,” Levy said. “It is not a business, so there is no deal between a business and a consumer in the legal sense of the term, but rather between private individuals.

“There is no address, and so it’s impossible to get back to the scalper. It’s reasonable to assume these fans lost their money, unless they can locate the source and sue in small claims court, where they can force the seller to return the money to the buyer. If the ticket purchasers bought from any legal source, and they know whom they paid, they can demand their money back.”

For anyone thinking about a class-action lawsuit over the game’s cancellation, Levy says the odds of winning such a case are negligible.

“Class action suits these days are filed about anything, so such a lawsuit could be filed, but I doubt it would be accepted,” she says. “It falls into the category of being powerless to have an influence. The organizers could not have made the game take place or not take place. Thus, they weren’t negligent, and the chances of a successful suit against them are low.”