2,822 fake tickets were detected at the gates during last season’s El Clasico between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Nou Camp, and the tickets were forged using official Barcelona membership cards.
Spanish police arrested 10 gang members who are allegedly involved in selling fake tickets to El Clasico — the FC Barcelona vs Real Madrid La Liga match — to be played at the Camp Nou in Barcelona on October 28, Sunday.
Spain's civil guard police force raided the premises of nine companies and made the arrests, cracking down on a gang suspected to be involved in the racket.
Sources were quoted by Efe that the operation was ordered by Judge Joaquin Aguirre in Barcelona, triggered by a complaint from the Prosecutor's Office. Last season, 2,822 fake attempted entries were detected for the Barca match against Real Madrid at the Camp Nou on May 6. The investigation that ensued unearthed a network of nine companies, including some based in Barcelona, which supposedly sold forged tickets for the Clásico and made a 1.5 million euros ($1.7 million) profit.
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The raids, which took place on October 26 — two days ahead of another Clasico clash at the Camp Nou — resulted in the arrests of 10 managers as suspects. It has come to light that the tickets for the May 6 match were forged using official Barcelona membership cards which had been made available to the suspects in exchange for money.
The forgers then used the QR codes on the cards to print forged tickets which were resold at a vast profit. However, the forged tickets were detected on entry to the stadium.
Given that the forgery had caused FC Barcelona a huge loss, the club imposed sanctions on the members whose cards were used for forgery, suspending some of them and expelling 33 others who had been caught for the same offense before.
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A total of 525 of the penalized members filed a class action in court against the sanctions imposed by the club, but the court dismissed their cases.
On the footballing front, the Clasico will have a star missing as Barcelona will be without Lionel Messi, who suffered a fractured arm last weekend — during the 4-2 La Liga win over Sevilla. Messi would be sidelined for up to three weeks, said reports.
However, Ernesto Valverde's team are in commanding form at the moment, and is going into the Clasico after drubbing Inter Milan 2-0 in their UEFA Champions League match mid-week.
(With inputs from IANS)
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