PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 June, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 June, 2006, 12:00am


The sign read: 'I will trade my sister for a ticket - she is young and Brazilian.' The offer got plenty of laughs from the fans lucky enough to have a ticket for the Brazil-Australia game, but there were few takers outside the Munich Stadium that day.

I have seen many people outside the stadiums holding up signs asking for tickets. They are the ardent fans who turn up on the off-chance of scoring a ticket from a tout. These fans are the bread and butter for this unscrupulous breed who show up at every major international sporting event - and no one, not even mighty Fifa, has been able to stop them.

'These touts are the worst kind of people. They feed on the needs of the genuine fan who is desperate to watch their team play,' says Sydneysider Ray Wallace, one of the many Australians without tickets for the Brazil game. 'And I'm ashamed to say I'm perpetuating their existence as I will be looking for a tout to buy a ticket.

'But what can I do, I couldn't buy tickets back home and I decided to give it a crack and come here on speculation.'

His is a common tale in Germany 2006. One English supporter I met on the train to Nuremberg for the game against Trinidad & Tobago last week paid Euro400 ($3,900) for a ticket with a face value of Euro40, the cheapest one around.

'It is a lot of money for me, and I know it is sad that I had to go to a tout,' said Chris, a Londoner. 'But what else could I do? I couldn't ignore the b*****, but I wish I could have given him a lump or two after I bought the ticket. The only thing which prevented me from doing that was he was bigger than me.'

So how do touts get their hands on tickets? Chris believes a lot of tickets which go to corporate sponsors and officials find their way on to the black market. There is also a thriving black market business done by travel agents.

According to Chris, the majority of tickets should be allocated to fans from the two countries participating in each match - at least for the first round.

But this is not how it works. For England's first game against Paraguay in Frankfurt, the English Football Association was given an allocation of 5,500 tickets. But more than half of the spectators in the 49,000-seater stadium were English fans.

Even England coach Sven Goran Eriksson was surprised at this large number of supporters. 'I thought we only had around 5,000 tickets, and I was pleased to see so many fans. They were fantastic and as usual they are our 12th player,' Eriksson said.

It is safe to presume a large number would have turned to touts to secure a seat for the opening game. By not allocating the majority of tickets to the associations involved, Fifa is playing into the hands of the touts.

Like football, money also makes the world go around, and with their greenbacks and euros, the touts always emerge winners.

A shame, especially when the true fan is caught out, having to go to desperate lengths to get his or her hands on a ticket.

Number of the Day: 674328. Say this is your passport or ID number. It is printed on your ticket along with your name, if you have bought it through official channels. But security guards at the stadiums are allowing everyone entry, even if names and numbers don't match.