Non-soccer Fan’s Hunt for Soccer Tickets
I never really liked soccer. I’m just an occasional spectator who once in every four years managed to slip a little match-viewing time into my schedule: the world cup. Other than that? You wouldn’t want to bet anything on my doing anything more than that. Two weeks ago, several of my colleagues were somewhat anxious about the then-upcoming Asian Cup held simultaneously in four countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand. I reacted to the information with indifference. To me, if someone had told me that one of the lights above my cubicle is off, that info would be more appreciated than the fact that a bunch of third-world countries getting together, running around in the fields chasing a ball.
All that changed when on Friday a cousin who lived in Surabaya called me, “Bro, can you please help me and my pop get two tickets to the July 18th Indonesia vs. Korea Rep. match? We already bought two train tickets for Jakarta Tuesday night and booked a hotel room near Senayan.” Whoa! I never warmed to the idea of standing in line among crowds of sweaty, rowdy, soccer hooligans shouting “We want tickets! Don’t hide the tickets!” But hey, family is family, right? So I decided to give it a shot, “I’ll see what I can do.”
I visited the official website of the Asian Cup, getting as much information I could get. Phone numbers, ticket booth locations, ticket categories and prices, seating locations, ticket purchase methods. A friend had told me that the AFC provide a link for online ticketing but it wasn’t working, so I didn’t give it a try. Besides, the tickets were sold by a Malaysian ticketing agent so I wasn’t sure about getting the actual tickets. It said that I would get a confirmation which I must exchange for the real tickets on-site on the match day. Uh huh. Sorry, fellas. No real ticket, no dough. The site also told of NIKE Stores selling the tickets. I called several NIKE Stores only to be told that the program was cancelled. Talk about miss-coordination! No choices are left; I must buy the tickets the hard way: the ticket booths.
I went to Senayan on Sunday (07/15) afternoon, only to find out that the tickets for today’s match wasn’t up for sale until Monday. Uh oh. I won’t go as far as queuing for some soccer ticket in the heat of Jakarta’s midday just to appease my relatives. After looking around and asking several parking attendants, I found a ticket scalper which quickly set a price of IDR 25,000 for each IDR 15,000 category-4 ticket – the cheapest of the four ticket categories. I saw no problem in paying IDR 10,000 more just to avoid getting grilled under the sun for only God knows how long. We agreed to meet again the next day at 5.00 pm to do the deal. I went home rather relaxed with the illusion that I had secured the tickets. But later I was proven wrong.
I was back in Senayan on Monday (07/16) after hours. Office hours end at 4.30 pm, so I wasted no time in getting there. To my dismay, the same ticket booth area was very crowded with soccer fans queuing for ticket, a huge difference with the day before. The ticket booths weren’t even opened. After asking a security guard, I found out that they’re all waiting for the category-4 tickets. They were available for several hours before but quickly sold out. The fans were promised that the committee will get some additional tickets for sale. Even worse, I couldn’t find the scalper from the day before anywhere! What a nightmare. I went home rather morose and empty handed.
Tuesday (07/17) saw me got back to Senayan again. I still saw the same condition just like on Monday. I visited two other ticket booth locations to no avail. They were all the same: all tickets were sold out and frustrated-looking fans were everywhere. I gave the last ticket booth location a try and still saw the same picture. I waited a bit and saw a sedan filled with high-school boys being approached by a man. I overheard their conversation and thought, “Eureka! A scalper!” Something that sorely missed that day, there was none in sight at the previous locations, very surprisingly. Perhaps the scalpers were avoiding the authorities?
Anyway, after the sedan took off, I approached the man and asked for category-4 tickets, the ones my relatives were after. He said that he had no category-4 and offered category-2 tickets instead for IDR 150,000 each. WTF?! A hundred-percent price hike?!?! Considering the circumstances, I kinda understand it, though. I told the man to wait while I contact my uncle. Alas, I couldn’t get him on the phone, so I asked for his name and mobile phone number. He introduced himself as “Bang Adang” and gave his number, telling me to meet him on that same spot the next morning (07/18) if we agreed on the deal.
From there, I went to Miss D’s office to pick her up. Unfortunately, she wasn’t ready yet so I waited for her in the lobby. I tried to call my uncle again and this time succeeded. I told him about the offer and situation etc. He understood and said that he’s OK with the price, “I have heard about it here in Surabaya. I have expected such a price.” Phew. A huge relief. I called Bang Adang, but sadly he was already at his home in Kwitang. I was wary of his offer to meet up the next morning, fearing that he’ll increase the price again, so I decided to go to his home to get the tickets that same night.
After Miss D and I went our separate ways at Mal Ciputra, I got home and asked my father to accompany me to the scalper’s home. As a former taxi driver, he should be familiar with the route. He agreed – to Miss D’s relieve; thank you, Dear – and we went out at exactly 9 pm. The trip took about 20 minutes thanks to Jakarta’s deserted night-time roads. Around Kebon Sirih I called the scalper again and he told me to wait in front of 4848 bus pool. We had waited for about 5 minutes when Bang Adang appeared from across the road on his BMX bike, looking like a high-school student with his knee-long shorts and a political party t-shirt. He smiled and shook my father’s and my hands – “He’s very polite,” my father said to me later that night. After checking the tickets, I gave the man the promised IDR 300,000 which he promptly received with a huge smile. IDR 150,000 profit with nearly no delivery effort, that would put a smile on anybody’s face. He once again shook our hands and said, “If you need more tickets for your friends, I still have some available.” How convenient.
To this moment I still can’t fathom the joy of it all. Hunting for the darn tickets, getting in line for hours on end with no real certainty of actually getting the tickets, sweating from getting all the hell around, paying extra for the scalpers’ price, only to get stuck in the crowd again when entering the stadium and during the match. Even more so when I found out that Indonesia lost 0-1 to Korea Rep. – very disappointing. But hey, I’m no sport fan and I may never understand this.