South Africa: Ticketing woes as 2010 World Cup approaches

As FIFA World Cup 2010 approaches, FIFA has launched its final ticket drive targeting South African and indeed world football fans as the biggest sporting event lands on the ‘Cape of Good Hope’. Initial estimates for sales target at least 500,000 to be churned out through the retail outlets and other easy-to-reach areas.

As reported by White Cottage Blog, the first day was characterized by chaos and even one fan lost their life after collapsing while queuing to purchase a ticket:

The first day of the last phase of ticket sales for the World Cup has resulted in chaos, with queues at sales points, one soccer fan dying of a heart attack in the queue, and the FNB system being off-line.

The blog also notes that:

…greedy and opportunistic “speculators” bought tickets, with the aim of reselling them, at a profit one would assume, and have now discovered, even though it was clearly stipulated during the purchase process, that one cannot resell them, as the ID number of the ticket purchasers are printed on the tickets. This means that sellers of tickets cannot even give them away for free!

The Soccerphile Blog gave a more personal account:

After being told by FIFA that there were tickets for all games, people who had been queuing from 0700 finally got to the counter at around 1400 to be told that only Category 1 tickets were available for some games

The 5th Official has this to say about the ticket sales as they got underway:

A total of 1610 tickets were sold to 310 customers nationally at the Ticketing Centres within the first hour after they opened at 9am this morning, with 2166 tickets also sold to 470 fans at FNB branches. The integrated Ticketing System, which manages all sales channels experienced huge countrywide demand; as a result experiencing some delays initially in the processing of ticket orders.

The, managed to get the Chief Executive Danny Jordaan who sought to clear the air about the chaos:

Danny Jordaan, chief executive of the World Cup organising committee, shrugged off the complaints: “It happens when you use technology. The moment you want not to have a glitch, you have a glitch. We printed tickets this morning and it was working perfectly. Then when you come and the cameras are here, somehow the machine gets shy and it doesn’t happen. But I’m happy it’s back online.”

Danny Jordaan said this to a British journalist:

I don’t think you understand chaos. It seems you have never been with football fans buying tickets. The experience today is exactly the same as buying a Manchester United or Arsenal ticket.…

In Pretoria, An American in Pretoriahad this to say:

I drove across Pretoria today. One of the robots was out and traffic was nightmarish. When I finally arrived at my destination there were throngs of people standing in a queue that snaked through two shopping malls – twisting, turning, suffocating any empty space in a two-block radius…World Cup tickets were available for public sale. The crowd was so thick I couldn't leave or go anywhere, so I sat in a cafe for three hours.

The World Soccer Blog says that South Africans do not seem to be interested in buying the tickets:

Over 500,000 tickets went on sale in SA over the counter in the final phase. Organizers are confronted with the Herculean task of selling these in the next two months or risk seeing sparsely attended matches. Ticket sales have been brisk in the USA, flat in Europe, and in Japan and generally in Asia, they have been disappointing.

But there are indications that South Africans themselves are not coming out in droves to buy. The danger is the lower profile matches involving nations like New Zealand, Slovenia, Algeria, and Greece. The SA government is also resorting to waiving visa fees at the point of entry in a bid to attract more World Cup fans. They are also setting up fast track channels to expedite visa processing.

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