Ticket tout jailed for travelling to Qatar World Cup despite match ban
A ticket tout who flew almost 5,000 miles to the Qatar World Cup despite being banned from all football grounds has been jailed.
Stuart O’Brien, 48, claimed he was in Ireland, but was caught when detectives rang his home and a relative told them “he’s in Qatar”.
He was subject to a five-year football banning order in February 2021 for bulk buying tickets in Liverpool and selling them on for profit.
It barred him from all matches in the UK and he was also not allowed to be in a specified area around Liverpool FC’s home ground six hours before kick off and one hour afterwards.
On October 17 last year, the Football Banning Orders Authority (FBOA) sent letters to all those subject to the orders during the World Cup and told them to surrender their passports at their local police station.
O’Brien, from the Anfield area of Liverpool, was granted an exemption after claiming he would be at a family wedding in Ireland.
He said he would leave on November 14, return on November 17 and hand in his passport the following day.
He had provided evidence of his flights and accommodation booking.
On November 17, he emailed the FBOA to tell them he was now staying in Ireland for another week with relatives.
He provided evidence of a hotel reservation that included a stay until December 4.
The FBOA emailed the ticket tout asking him to provide his return flight booking to the UK twice, but he did not reply either time.
On December 1, a police officer rang his home address and asked to speak to him.
A relative replied “he’s in Qatar”.
When officers searched a relative’s home in the Everton area of the city about an unrelated matter, they found a large number of tickets for the USA v Wales match in Qatar on November 21 last year, an ID card issued for the World Cup, and tickets for hospitality areas on the night of various England games in Qatar.
British police officers on duty in the Gulf state during the World Cup also submitted photographs to Merseyside Police of O’Brien in Qatar.
He was later arrested and pleaded guilty to defying a football banning order at Sefton Magistrates’ Court on April 26, where he was jailed for 12 weeks.
A district judge told him his behaviour was so flagrant he had no option but to put him behind bars.
Crown Prosecution Service national football lead Douglas Mackay said: “Football banning orders are one of the many tools available to the justice system for imposition on offenders who are convicted of crimes related to our national game and we take a zero tolerance to those who try to flout them.
“The CPS continues to play a crucial role in tackling these crimes and making our national game inclusive, and safe to watch and play in.
“There is no place for ticket touting in football which spoils the game for genuine fans and likely feeds into further criminal activity, and incidents such as these have a significant negative impact on victims.
“We will continue to work closely with the police, football authorities and fan groups to stamp this out.”