Euro 2020 has popped back into our footballing consciousness this week following a couple of announcements from UEFA. Firstly, they cleverly set the scene for a ticketing frenzy by informing us that this summer’s tournament had broken records for ticket applications. Hardly surprising really seeing as it’s taking place across the continent, but they told us anyway just before some more tickets went on sale. Secondly, they confirmed that over 1 million (around a third of the total) tickets would be delivered to fans digitally.
This led me to several dawning realisations. I didn’t have long to book time off work, travel, and accommodation for my trip to Amsterdam and if my tickets were some of that 1 million, I might not actually even see physical ticket? Actual paper tickets are a major part of a big sporting event like the European Championships for so many fans.
So much so that in years gone by the announcement of the chosen design of the tickets would be a semi-big deal for fans looking forward to the treasured memento from their trip around the host country. This summer’s tournament, however, is a bit different as well all know. No single host country and for some the potential for no paper tickets.
UEFA, of course, has already thought about this. They’re offering fans the chance to order souvenir paper versions of their tickets, for a price of course. They did the same for mobile tickets sold for the Nations League Finals last summer. The price according to their website would be 15 Euros per order.
How Euro 2020 mobile ticketing will work
It looks as though most, if not all, of the tickets bought in the December ballot and any subsequent sales, will be provided for fans on their mobile phones. They will become available no later than a week before their specific match via a Euro 2020 mobile ticketing app. The person who bought the tickets can then easily allocate tickets to their guests via the app. Tickets will then be activated via Bluetooth when fans arrive at the stadium. It all seems straightforward provided you remember to keep your Bluetooth on and have your phone charged.
It is slightly disappointing then that the ticketing app, which is yet to be released is a separate application to the main Euro 2020 app which has been available for a while. It already keeps a record of tickets bought in order to provide you with a guide on the cities you’ll be visiting. Having one single app which provides information about the tournament and contains a secure digital wallet for your tickets would have been a much more seamless user experience.
There is now significant room for confusion for fans who just want to watch some football and don’t want to spend time downloading various apps and fiddling with their Bluetooth. It also seems a little much to charge 15 euros for souvenir paper tickets. These could potentially have been something that could have been provided at a reduced cost at the matches along with any printed souvenir programmes that may be available.
Why mobile ticketing for Euro 2020?
On UEFA’s side, it’s clear that delivering tickets via mobile devices simplifies the logistics of a tournament that is taking place over multiple counties, especially when it comes to the tickets that are bought in the run-up to the tournament kicking off. It also helps them hit their sustainability targets by reducing the amount of paper they are responsible for.
There are plenty of benefits for fans too. No more waiting around for a delivery driver to drop off your precious cargo and it’s one less thing to worry about packing when you make your final baggage checks before departure. It may also provide some additional flexibility for fans looking to pick up tickets immediately before or during the tournament itself. No more having to find a ticket office in a strange country and standing in a queue sweating while you hear the start of the national anthems in the nearby stadium. You should now be able to buy the ticket and download it from the relative comfort of your hotel room.
Another supposed benefit comes from the technology behind the mobile ticketing solution. Yes, Euro 2020’s mobile tickets will be provided by blockchain technology. Blockchain, a term that is becoming increasingly linked with sporting events and ticketing, is a system that relies on smart contracts. In theory, this means that each transaction is traceable, individual and unchangeable and significantly harder for fraudulent tickets to be created and scalpers to operate. The theory behind also hopes that blockchain will also help to keep prices stable while allowing tickets to be easily shared amongst friends and family.
A step in the right direction
If the theory around blockchain ticketing becomes a reality it could be a big step forward in making ticket buying a much more stable and secure pastime for travelling football fans. Ultimately, however, UEFA’s move towards mobile ticketing for its unique one-off version of its summer tournament will be judged by many in terms of how successfully they are able to navigate the ballot.
People lucky enough to get tickets will be happy and those that don’t will not. As we have seen recently with NFL UK tickets and other major sporting events they will look to blame scalpers and harvesting bots if they then see tickets they weren’t able to get show up on secondary ticketing sites for inflated prices. Unfortunately, we won’t know for sure if blockchain can help to fix these issues until an event goes fully mobile for its ticketing and we finally see the secondary ticketing sites with nothing to sell on. The ticketing process for the Euros continues as an official resale site for Euro 2020 tickets opens on 26 February for tickets that have been returned from the first 2 ballots.