“Now you are in line. You are online for Argentina vs. Panama. When it is your turn, you will access the website and you will have 10 minutes to make your purchase”, says the message of the sportick sitethe one chosen by the Argentine Football Association (AFA) to sell the tickets for the match that will be played at home by the champion team in Qatar. Wait, there is hope. But immediately disappointment comes: “Your number in line: 1,456,362”. Each user was entitled to buy between four and six tickets. With a conservative calculation, 5,825,448 tickets should have been sold before the turn comes. The River Plate stadium has 80,000 seats, of which 17,000 had already been distributed by hand by the AFA among companies, players and leaders. The illusion of being there, supporting Lionel Messi and his team on March 23 in Buenos Aires, was ephemeral.
The Argentines had been waiting for weeks for the sale of tickets for the match of their soccer team. The demand was not surprising. When Lionel Scaloni’s team brought the Cup to Buenos Aires, millions of people accompanied the bus that took them to the center of the city. The crowd was so great that halfway they boarded a helicopter, passed by the Obelisk and returned to the starting point, the property that the AFA has in the outskirts.
The idea of seeing them on a playing field, even if it was against a B team from Panama, was a consolation for those who had been left wanting that December 20. The temperature was very high. In WhatsApp groups they exchanged strategies to improve their place in the virtual queue and friends swore to share tickets in case they got more than one. “Anyone could buy?” Was the most shared question. “I think that if you are less than 170,000 you have an option,” some launched.
Soon the television channels went on to something else, surrendering to the screens that showed locations over a million in the waiting order. “Tell us if you could buy”, the journalists asked their viewers, anxious. On Twitter, the hashtags #conseguiste and #pudiste were trending. At 3:00 p.m. in Buenos Aires, an hour after the sale began, neither the AFA nor Deportick had informed if there were still tickets. But those lucky ones who finally made it through the purchase process were in for a surprise: “Your stay time, you have to line up again.” At 4:25 p.m., finally, the site posted the “Sold Out” sign on its front page. The dream was over.
Those who were lucky found that tickets cost twice as much as the last time the team played in Buenos Aires. Since March 2022, when Argentina said goodbye to the qualifiers against Venezuela, the country has registered inflation of 102.5%. Tickets this Thursday cost between 35 and 250 dollars at the official exchange rate, but Argentines have gotten used to selling out any show despite the crisis, even if they have to fall into the black market.
The suit encouraged the creativity of the living. Already during ticket sales, there were those who offered their place in line for 120,000 pesos (almost 600 dollars at the official exchange rate). “I use bots to be able to stay ahead of the virtual queue and thus make it easier for people to get their ticket,” the offer said. And there was even a page with the domain deportikok that promised tickets of dubious origin after sending proof of a bank deposit.
Those who were left out of the River Plate stadium will have another chance on March 28, in Santiago del Estero (north), where the Albiceleste will host the Curacao team. The authorities removed seats from the stadium to increase the capacity of the stands from 30,000 to 42,000 people, even with standing fans. Given the demand in Buenos Aires, any number will be small.
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