The way in which it has allocated tickets has led the DFB, Germany’s Football Association, to be suspected of abusing its dominant market position. The Bundeskartellamt, Germany’s Federal Cartel Office, has since suspended its investigations into the matter.
A lot of fans of the German national football team would like to watch the team’s games live in the stadium, but getting hold of the relevant tickets for the 2018 World Cup or the away matches during the qualification phase has proven extremely difficult because the DFB linked the allocation of the tickets to membership of the German national football team’s fan club. The annual fee for the membership was 40 euros.
A large number of complaints were made against this way of allocating tickets, and the Bundeskartellamt initiated administrative procedures against the DFB on suspicion of misuse of a dominant market position. The Bundeskartellamt has confirmed that the proceedings have since been suspended. Prior to this, the DFB had committed to easing the conditions for applying for tickets to the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Following consultation with the Bundeskartellamt, it is now possible for fans to obtain significantly cheaper and temporary tournament membership for ten euros and apply for tickets. The background to the DFB’s decision to link ticket allocation to membership of the fan club was to thereby ensure greater safety in the stadia. This argument influenced the cartel watchdog’s decision.
We at the commercial law firm GRP Rainer Rechtsanwälte note that abusing a dominant market position can give rise severe penalties, as antitrust law is supposed to ensure there is diverse competition in the interests of consumer protection. Violations of antitrust law or competition law may therefore entail appropriate sanctions, which can in turn lead to costly and time-consuming legal disputes.
To avoid legal disputes arising from possible violations of competition law or antitrust law, lawyers who are experienced in the field of antitrust law ought to be consulted early on. They can assess whether there are concerns from the perspective of antitrust law and overcome potential problems. If specific accusations and claims have already been made due to alleged violations, experienced lawyers can assume responsibility for fending these off. Of course, the same is also true in the reverse case, i.e. if there is an intention to assert claims for violations of antitrust law.