By Armstrong Vaz
Doha, Dec 17 (IANS): Argentinian trio Lucas Ledezma, Leandro Blanco Pighi, and Silvio Gatti, set out on the cycling journey of a lifetime from South Africa to Qatar in May this year to attend the FIFA World Cup and to see Lionel Messi and Scaloneta hold aloft the glittering trophy on Sunday at Lusail Stadium.
For the author, teacher and content producer trio - one of three goals of the grueling and challenging trip was to see Argentina and Messi winning the trophy, which is just a match away.
The trio, who spent 177 days on the road covering 10,000 km and 15 countries between Cape Town and Doha, was joined by Matias Vercesi in Egypt but again has been reduced to a trio with travel agent Silvio heading to Australia, after watching a few matches due to work commitments.
"We want to get to Messi. We are Lucas, Silvio and Lea and we are giving it all for the Scaloneta. We travel by bike to Qatar, crossing Africa and the Middle East. We started in South Africa and we want to see Messi caress the trophy.
"The Odyssey has 3 goals: Get to Qatar to look for the trophy next to the Scaloneta, record a documentary, plant a tree for every km travelled and let Scaloneta, AFA Seleccion and Leo Messi know the whole story," the group, wrote on their Instagram page.
The cyclists have been fortunate to travel around Qatar on their bicycles exploring each and every part of Qatar and also fortunate to be handed tickets for each and every match of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar by the Argentina Football Federation except the final.
The ticket road to the final for the cyclists has hit a roadblock and now they are desperately looking for the match tickets and knocking on all doors. They have been caught by a bigger storm much more then what obstacles they encountered on the road trip to Qatar on their bicycles.
"Yes, we are looking for tickets, we do not have tickets for the final match, can you help us with people who can help with the tickets," requested Leandro.
They trio are not the only ones looking for final match day tickets; hundreds of Argentina football fans gathered outside FIFA's main ticketing office on Friday with hopes of obtaining the final match tickets at the 88,000-capacity Lusail Stadium.
Fans of the two-time world champions are upset by the lack of ticket availability on FIFA's official sale and resale platforms.
On Thursday, Argentina fans staged a demonstration outside a Doha hotel demanding that the Argentine Football Association (AFA) help them to get tickets for the World Cup final, the protests which continued on Friday.
With FIFA warning that resale of tickets should be done only through the official platforms several thousand tickets have been sold illegally, throughout the World Cup and for the final, as well.
Supporters said the cheapest official tickets are selling on underground markets for more than $4,000 and negotiations are being held on a multitude of WhatsApp groups.
Final tickets of face value of $750 are sold for $4,000 with the most expensive ones as listed by FIFA at $5,850, are being offered for more than $14,000, quoting prices up to eight times the face value of tickets.
Fathom this discussion on one of the groups.
"(4) final tickets, Category 4, block 564, tickets seated together, 3 transferable 1 login will be provided. 12,000 Qr each, Those are for a friend, who's interested let me know so I could connect you with him."
Here one man who was upset and spoke his mind on what was happening and people being taken for a ride by the resellers.
"I had tickets and sold them to my friends at the price I bought them for not one penny more. You could say demand is there and try to sell your tickets for 40 k. Why not? But who in their right mind would buy... any ways good luck selling your tickets guess you really need the money. Greed was something I always found ugly. What annoyed me most was your comment February prices that was B...S..."
"Well prices have increased resale 10fold of hotels, It's the same concept... with demand... price increases," justified one seller.
"Your ticket prices have nothing to do with hotel prices. You making money as a reseller fine. But don't B...S... people. You are trying to justify your greed. Selling category 4 at seriously shitty price people spending that amount of money will go for hospitality tickets..."
And at times the discussion took a funny turn with one asking: "Can we play during the match along with Messi with this price... please check seller... I think it's possible."