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Organisers reaction when it emerged some tickets booked together are not next to one another left a lot to be desired

Following the still simmering fury over Uefas choice of Baku for the Europa League final and its corporate-heavy ticket policy for both its showpiece mens competitions, Fifa has given us an outstanding proverbial hold my beer moment.

Just 18 days before hosts France open the Womens World Cup against South Korea at Parc des Princes a number of fans have found that tickets purchased at the same time are not next to one another. Families and friends heading to the tournament face being split up.

Its hard to understand how this happened. Fifa has been taking payments for tickets since the first packages were made available in October. It has raked in the cash and seemingly not noticed this gaping hole in its system. With tickets ready to be downloaded and printed from Monday, the penny, or bomb, dropped for the fans at least.

Rather than owning up to the clearly monumental error, Fifa attempted to doublespeak its way out of it. With an almost flippancy, the official Womens World Cup Twitter account responded with: Dear fans. We have noted some of your comments, re: your tickets. When you placed your order, a message indicating not all seats would be located next to each other did appear, before confirmation of your purchase. Unfortunately we will not be able to modify your order.

Yes. Thats right. This is normal. We should have expected it. When you book cinema tickets its common to have five friendly strangers seated between you and your other half. Welcome to the new world, where every booking is a wild ride into the unknown. You cant beat the look on a dates face when you hand them a theatre ticket and go and sit five rows further forward at least you didnt book a restricted view seat.

For Fifa, though, there was only one small hint of a flaw in its master plan; that children could find themselves seated alone. Its follow-up tweet stated: However, an exception could be made for parents whose seats are not next to the seats of their underage children (18 years old and younger).

Thats right an exception could be made. What absolute heroes. Luckily Ive not had to take advantage of its generous rule-bending as my son has been awarded a seat next to his dad Ill be in the press box but that I had to log in and check my five-year-old wouldnt potentially be clambering around the stands alone is damning enough.

The stadium in Lyon which will host the semi-finals and final of the Womens World Cup. Photograph: Emmanuel Foudrot/Reuters

Others have been less lucky. Such as Brenna Polk, who accused Fifa of not caring and wanting us to play musical chairs. Her friend purchased five tickets on 20 October for each of the semi-finals and final (the hampions package) in Lyon only to find on Monday that they have been handed seats in rows 1, 16 and 17 of block 429 and two in row 17 of block 30.

Or Laura Snodgrass, whose party of eight, including children aged six to 10, for the same three matches, has one seat in row 12, one in row 14, one in row 17 and five in row 15 but only three next to each other.

And Gareth James, travelling from his home in Bangkok, who found that, as it stands, he will sit 12 rows behind his football-mad 11- and 13-year-old daughters for three games.

Peter, who bought four tickets in the Visa pre-sale for Scotland v Japan in Rennes, including for his 13-year-old daughter, has been give four in the same row weirdly separated by single seats.

Meanwhile, one person cheerily tweeted: Good luck to whoever gets stuck sitting next to my 3 year old.

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Seven hours after its initial response Fifa looked to be embarking on an almighty backpedal: The previous tweets regarding Fifa Womens World Cup tickets allocation were published without a full understanding of the situation and we apologise for that. The issues were faced by less than 1% of fans requesting tickets for the semi-finals and the final.

Fifa and the local organising committee are confident the problems will be solved and the fans will be able to enjoy the matches as they envisaged.

This, though, did little to win the confidence of the disgruntled, with individuals confirming issues with matches at Parc des Princes, including the opener, and in Rennes.

There is a real belief that this tournament could signal a qualitative leap forward in the development of womens football across the globe.

The mood is high. Sponsorship is pouring into the game as companies sense an opportunity to enhance their images while tapping into a relatively untouched market. The quality of the product, thanks to the growing professionalisation of the game, is the best it has ever been, and is getting better.

Yet Fifa has derailed the momentum in a way that only Fifa could. There are some genuinely good people working hard to grow the womens game within the world governing body. And I feel sorry for them. They too have undoubtedly been let down by this mess. But this ridiculous episode shows us the nature of the beast; that all the good will in the world can do only so much in an organisation where fans seem to be second best to finance.

Talking points

Yeovil have been demoted two divisions after being denied a license to join the Womens Championship following their relegation from the top tier. The FA said Yeovil had been unable to private sufficient evidence that it could meet the key minimum requirements of the tier-two license. The club argue they had been in a Catch-22 situation, unable to confirm sponsors until their license was approved.

Arsenal have signed the Austria goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger from Bayern Munich, where she won the Bundesliga in 2015 and 2016.

Caroline Graham Hansen joined Barcelona from Wolfsburg. The coveted 24-year-old Norwegian has won three league titles, five cups and played in two Champions League finals with the German champions.

Erin Cuthbert of Chelsea celebrates after scoring what has been judged the best Champions League goal of the season. Photograph: Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Erin Cuthberts strike for Chelsea at Lyon has been named the Champions League goal of the season. The Scot has been named in the team of the competition alongside Chelsea teammates Millie Bright and Karen Carney, while Englands and Lyons Lucy Bronze is in the team for the third year running.

Arsenal have announced that they will play Bayern Munich in a double header with the mens team, who will face Lyon in the Emirates Cup on 28 July. The WSL champions will kick off at 12.30pm and the men at 3.15pm.

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Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2019/may/21/womens-world-cup-ticket-fiasco-fifa-response