World Cup Ticket Monkey Business

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One of Paris' historic bistros, near Les Halles.

Fakes of Everything Everywhere

Paris:- Saturday, 30. May 1998:- Some bright radio France-Info sparks were reading classified ads last week when they tumbled on one offering to buy tickets to the World Cup matches.

So they immediately hooked up a tape-recorder to their telephone and called a number, probably in Marseille. France-Info played the resulting conversation for its listeners. It went something like this:

Jean-Jacques Fana: "I'm calling about the ad you had in the paper, offering to buy World Cup tickets."

Marie Ripoffique: "Yes, what sort of ticket do you wish to sell?"

Jean-Jacques Fana: "It's for the final, in the Stade de France. I paid 2900 francs for it."

Marie Ripoffique: "Oh, I'll just check our database..." - pause - "...Yes, sir; we can offer you 1500 francs for it."

Jean-Jacques Fana: "What? That's less than I paid for it! What's the deal?"

Marie Ripoffique: "I'm sorry; not 1500 francs. I meant 13,500 francs."

Jean-Jacques Fana: "In cash?"

Marie Ripoffique: "Yes, of course, right away. The buyer will bring the cash with him."

Jean-Jacques Fana: 'Is this legal?"

Marie Ripoffique: "Yes, of course."

After this, 'Jean-Jacques Fana' gives the young lady a lecture about the 'rules' of the World Cup ticket trade - as dictated by the CFO - which involves the nominative tickets - that they cannot be sold to anybody except the CFO - not even to your uncle - and so on, just like the details of the usual software license 'agreement.'

You can buy the tickets or the software, but you never 'own' them. Presumably the young lady sees the error of her ways and immediately leaves the World Cup ticket-hustle business to enter a convent.

But maybe not. Le Parisien has a report about a travel agency which is an 'official' CFO-sanctioned ticket dealer; one that has decided that's its top tickets can have a curiously familiar price of 15,700 francs. "Just our normal 30 percent mark-up," an agency spokesman told Le Parisien.

Fear of Fakes

This is about the 'Euro' - our new all-in-one currency-to-come - but it applies to World Cup tickets as well.

Every couple of weeks, TV-news produces a new report to amaze viewers and it is usually about a 'new' model of 'Euro' currency notes. It is always pointed out in every direction, that the newcafe floor notes are counterfeit-proof - because they contain some magical unreproducible herbs or other wonder stuff.

The last time this was done, no sooner had they shown us the new notes on TV, than somebody 'disappeared' their magic hologram. Right! The one thing impossible to copy. They're not even printing the notes yet, and their protection has been ripped off. Oh, they are looking under cabinets and desks, but they think its gone.

The last time I did a counterfeit story it was something similar. The Bank of France was about to bring out new 200 franc notes, and they were a big fake-proof deal being waved all over the TV-news. Then Italian cops ran over a shop near Naples two days later and captured mint film and plates for the new notes - well before the real notes were on the streets in France.

So what do you think I thought earlier today when M-R shows up in a tizzy and sticks these one and two-'Euro' coins in front of one of my eyes?

"Look," she says, "They're giving change in Euros at the supermarket!"

On the reverse side of the two Euro coin I read, 'Ville de Marly-le-Roi.'

"I don't know how much they're worth," she goes on breathlessly, "I got change for a 100 francs and they 'rounded it off' with these 'Euro' coins."

Well, if they had 'France-something' on the reverse they might be worth about six francs thirty or forty; but it looks to me like the Ville de Marly-le-Roi is beating the counterfeiters to the punch.

Actually, it's a 'promo' for the 'Euro.' These pieces of shiny metal really are coined by the official mint, but the ones given out in Issy say Ville de Issy-les-Moulineaux on the reverse side - also this weekend. The supermarket chain Leclerc has been putting up all its prices in francs and Eurosmarly's euros for some time now and there was a similar thing on some posters all over Paris last week.

M-R's brand-new 'Euro' coins, freshly minted for Marly-le-Roi.

I wish they would just do it and quit fooling around. When I go to Spain I change over to pesetas as soon as I cross the border and when I want some cash, an ATM there gives me oodles of pesetas instead of francs. There are always some pesetas left over from the previous year and I try to remember to take these in case I get thirsty before I see an ATM.

M-R says the change-over will be easier than when the quid got divided by ten instead of twelve - but there are a lot of people in France, not all of them old, still doing their sums in 'old' francs. Calculating in these can generate quite startling sums for humdrum items.

World Cup Fakes

Apparently there are no less than 1500 individual articles which carry the official World Cup logos. About 800 to 1000 shoppers a day are passing through the World Cup souvenir shop on the Champs-Elysées, and some of them are spending money there.

A related story is the one about how many of these 'official' World Cup articles are fakes. The photo in yesterday's Le Parisien shows a young lady holding up two footballs and one of them is a phoney.

Anybody can see this at a glance. The 'official' Addidas one is made on a piece-work basis by kids in Pakistan, and the 'fake' onebeaubourg is made on a piece-work basis by kids in... you name some country that pays less than in Pakistan.

Le Parisien tosses a lot of numbers around but does not actually say how many of the 1500 'official' items have been counterfeited so far. I think their huge numbers refer to how many 'official' throw-away razors have been seized.

Beaubourg is definitately open - a little bit.

Just so fakers can't say they weren't warned, the paper says the customs agents and anti-fraud squads are gearing up for a super action, to take place in all ten cities where the games will be played, starting the day of the first match.

Police Hold Surprise Round-Up

Police and security services in France and neighboring countries struck early last Tuesday morning, to round-up people suspected of possibly planning to disrupt World Cup games with various acts, including terrorism.

French security forces detained several dozens of suspects in the surprise raids. Le Parisien had a long report on Wednesday that was short on hard numbers. No mention has been made of any actually planned terrorist actions uncovered.

Of the 55 detained in France Tuesday morning, 25 were still in custody on Wednesday evening.

Meanwhile in Paris, the highly visible security presence of the 'Vigipirate' plan was reactivated and armed soldiers were again seen in major train stations. This action extends to all of the ten departments where the championship matches will be held.

Elsewhere in the News

A socialist deputy has launched a debate in the Assembly National on the subject of restricting firearms sales. Handgun laws in France are strict; but they do permit the ownershipmax ernst sign of them. Arms dealers think the laws are strict enough, and they are probably right.

Bandits and bank robbers do not get their arms from regular dealers, but they may acquire weapons from burglars who loot private guns. When bandits do use weapons, it is usually with premeditation and they often use extreme force when attacking armored cars. Casual or accidental shootings are fairly rare.

SportsNews: SportsMania Season Opens With Little News

Due to the impending World Cup and the early elimination of the top stars at the Roland Garros tennis tournament, there isn't much in the way of sportsnews.

The French team that will be competing in the World Cup took on Belgium and managed to eke out a one-nothing victory - it was a Win! - but could not do the same playing against Morocco - it was a zero-all tie. Or it was one-one; I forget. [flash: Morocco won in a penalty shoot out].

The French national team is doing its pre-World Cup training in Casablanca and the game with the Moroccans was probably a 'friendly' - which might mean the hosting club was being polite to the French guests and refrained from scoring a goal.

The SportsBar Has Moved to the Fútbol Page for the duration. Bon chance!
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