How Ticketing Technology Securely Streamlined the World Cup Fan Experience
Security Technology, February 2023
Every four years, the FIFA World Cup shines as one of the largest and most popular sporting events in the world. The 2022 version was no exception, spanning eight stadiums across Qatar, with more than 1.4 million visitors attending matches. The eight newly constructed stadiums hosted 64 games and 32 participating teams, with capacities between 44,000 and 89,000 spectators for each game.
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With an event garnering this much demand, one of the biggest challenges for FIFA was managing the ticketing experience. Due to the sheer volume of ticketholders and the frequency of matches, it was important to have a technology that would work effectively and securely.
When most fans purchased their World Cup tickets for the 2022 tournament, they received them as mobile tickets to be downloaded via the Official FIFA World Cup 2022 mobile ticketing app. Ticketholders installed the app on their smartphone, created a FIFA Ticketing account using their personal data and email address used for the ticket purchase, confirmed their email address, and then had access to the tickets they purchased.
In some instances, fans bought their tickets at FIFA ticketing centers in Qatar—part of the Last-Minute sales phase—and received paper tickets in person.
Knowing that counterfeit tickets have historically been a problem at sporting events of this magnitude, the sale of illicit tickets was a concern for FIFA.
To help address these worries for a third World Cup, HID provided unique RAIN RFID technology to facilitate identity verification in the ticketing process. RFID differs from traditional barcoded tickets, which can more easily be counterfeited, by transmitting the unique identity of a ticket and its holder via radio waves. Unlike barcode readers, RFID scanners do not need a line of sight with the RFID chips
To combat counterfeit sales, HID delivered a smart ticket with multiple security features—including an RFID inlay manufactured with special security papers. The data stored in each ticket’s RFID chip was also encrypted and digitally signed.
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The RFID tickets were made of three layers: the top, middle, and bottom layer. The top layer consisted of thermal paper that is used for variable data and personalization, including UV ink printing in two colors. This is in addition to a customized 2D hologram and micro-text that were embedded in the ticket. The middle layer consisted of an RFID inlay chip. The third layer was made of security paper—similar to the paper used for bank notes production—which includes physical objects that are mixed into the paper pulp during the production process.
HID has been producing these RFID tickets for three consecutive events for FIFA World Cup, delivering approximately 2 million paper tickets at the 2022 tournament alone.
Having a highly secured ticket meant that attendees could simply tap their tickets to a reader to gain access to an event, speeding up admissions throughout the duration of the World Cup.
HID was also tasked to provide an outer-perimeter access control layer for each stadium and across Qatar.
To support this, several thousand handheld high-frequency RFID readers were provided by HID so that staff could scan all visitors entering the stadiums and training fields, whether carrying an RFID/mobile ticket, RFID paper ticket, or RFID/digital Hayya card.
Once a visitor approached a venue entrance, event officials scanned each ticket’s tag. Once the ID was authenticated, it automatically displayed approval on the handheld reader so that the ticketholder was permitted to enter the stadium. This system allowed fake tickets to be identified, preventing individuals from entering the stadiums under false pretenses. The system also allowed the officials to obtain a full view of people entering and exiting the facility, and better manage traffic flow. Once the ticketholders were inside the stadium, they were allowed to roam freely.
In addition, 200 gates were embedded with a new, patent-pending ultra high frequency (UHF) booster technology developed by HID to manage the stadium exit.
As part of the project, HID also provided a personalization solution for the secure tickets, including self-service kiosks for media seat assignment tickets, cabinets for tickets, instant issuing with special printers for on-the-go ticket personalization and on-site support during each match.
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An accompanying Event Management Platform (EMP) provided real-time data and reporting through several user-friendly dashboards, which helped security officials and event organizers remotely monitor and manage everything from the number of attendees at each entry and exit point to media credentialing and crowd control.
Having real-time data of when ticket holders are going in and out of the perimeter is crucial for event organizers to ensure the best possible experience for fans, as well as obtain intelligence as to where a particular gate needs more attention in terms of crowd control and emergency evacuation.
Cesare Paciello is vice president of events and mobility solutions, HID. He joined HID in December 2017 to apply his decades of experience in the digital security, identity, ticketing, and transportation industry toward driving segment growth and solutions development. Paciello also has served as vice president of European, Middle East, and African (EMEA) sales for Arjo Systems since February 2015. Prior to this, he worked for Arjowiggins Security, also in executive and management positions overseeing ticketing and transportation products and services solutions. Paciello graduated in economy and at the Università degli Studi di Salerno and then followed Instead Executive Programmes in Singapore and inFrance (Instead) and in Milan at 24 Ore Business School. For more information, go to: https://www.hidglobal.com/solutions/sports-and-event-management, or email [email protected]
© Cesare Paciello, HID