TicketManager | TicketManager Helps Corporate Sponsors Play Fair Amid FIFA Scandals

With a transparent system for tracking and reporting ticket usage, World Cup partners can avoid tax trouble and corruption.


Tickets to historic matches like the World Cup, whether purchased or earned through sponsorships, are the closest commodities to cash many companies own. And like cash, they have to be managed carefully to avoid flying foul of tax regulations and anti-corruption laws.

Recent arrests of fourteen key figures in the world of international football are proof enough of the legal dangers in managing sponsorship assets. FIFA officials, including Chuck Blazer and Daryan Warner, are accused of making millions off of scalped tickets and sponsorship kickbacks. The Department of Justice called the alleged corruption “rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted.”

Keeping ticket use within bounds

Corporate sponsors like Google, MasterCard, Wells Fargo, and HP implement controls and processes globally to be certain their World Cup sponsorships and ticket usage remain legal and tax compliant, using the software’s built-in ticket tracking to document prices, usage, and revenue. Those well-documented processes can prevent corruption and keep foul headlines away from well-meaning firms.

“Illegitimate use and criminal fraud are commonplace with sports tickets, especially with high profile ones,” said TicketManager CEO Tony Knopp, whose company provides auditable processes and online tools for businesses with tickets, “There is no higher profile event than the World Cup and the stakes are high.”

Deloitte’s Ed Sturm, an expert in T&E, says that proper documentation is key to a company ticket program and any process should include details like:
● Which employees used the tickets
● Who attended along with the employees
● What purpose the ticket usage served

“You need to know the highest luxury box price, and so forth, so you’re able to sit the agents down and walk them through all that documentation. That’s the only way you’re going to win,” he explained.

“Fraud is as rampant as your imagination,” said TicketManager’s Knopp. “True story: We had a customer invite guests to the 2004 World Cup Final in Germany. 8 tickets for the biggest event of the year. The guests called two days after claiming the tickets were bad and didn’t work, that they were left out of the stadium and wanted over $80,000 in restitution. Only one problem: The customer had a big block of tickets and their other guests had taken a 360 degree panoramic video of the stadium. Right there on the screen was the guest trying to defraud them.”

Corporations also need to enforce sound, written policies on ticket usage. According to Sturm, “I need to be able to prove that I wasn’t allowing employees to request these tickets two months in advance. I need to be able to show that there’s a policy in place for when they can request tickets, and how many they can get, and have that information in order.”

Multinational companies face further scrutiny

Those policies become especially important when multinational companies play host to potential clients from another country, as is often the case at an international event like the World Cup. Implications of bribery can crop up if tickets are given out carelessly.

International law firm Foley & Lardner offered this advice on entertaining international guests:
● Understand the strict limits placed on providing things of value, including tickets to sports and entertainment events.
● Maintain internal controls intended to inhibit corrupt payments.
● Keep records that, in reasonable detail, record transactions appropriately.

Failure to do so can have long-lasting consequences, according to Foley: “Unfortunately, when a company gets caught up in a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigation, its legal costs can continue for years, even after a settlement with the government.”

“When I was working back at StubHub, a third party responsible for Coca-Cola’s tickets called to sell over $50,000 in Final Four inventory,” said Knopp. “That number is 10x for the World Cup. It’s high stakes.”

It might be too late for FIFA to avoid the fallout from past ticket abuses. Fortunately, World Cup sponsors may avoid a similar fate with proper ticket tracking and management. For many of these corporations, TicketManager is making it easier to play fair.

About Us:
TicketManager is where tickets mean business. TicketManager makes company tickets simple by enabling companies to measure the business impact of sports and entertainment assets while staying compliant.

Described as “Necessary in Business” by CNBC, TicketManager offers a variety of web and mobile products to help companies of all sizes use the tickets they own, buy the tickets they need, and stay compliant with all federal, state, and local regulation without adding another layer of red-tape or confusing software.
TicketManager makes tickets available where the business user lives, whether on their mobile device, in their CRM, or through their team and venue partners. TicketManager partners with over 60 professional sports teams and venues as well as industry leading partners, Salesforce.com and Concur, to offer integrated products alongside education. The company is based in Calabasas, CA.