In desperation FIFA have announced a new round of ticket sales starting next month for fans of teams in the finals. It’s hard to believe that fans who decided not to go to South Africa when tickets were already available will suddenly change their minds.
World Cup Tickets Disaster
By Andrew Jennings
Sunday January 17, 2010
This year’s World Cup is in deep trouble as fans refuse to buy tickets, blaming greed by businessmen friends of Sepp Blatter and fears about safety in South Africa.
Unofficial World Cup ticket brokers, approved agents, black market operators and national associations are all struggling to sell nearly one million unwanted seats for first round matches.
One dealer in the unofficial ticket and travel market said, ‘The word is already on the street, the event is a bomb, it’s a bust, it’s on the floor, the unsafe atmosphere and the cost of travel and hotels has made this an awful event to sell.’
Another broker told me, ‘They talk about 450,000 fans coming. I predict between 125,000 to 150,000. This is turning into a huge disaster for FIFA and the South African organisers.’
Even African fans are refusing to buy. 2010 chief executive Danny Jordaan has been forced to admit, ‘Less that 100,000 tickets have been sold to fans in the six African countries competing in the Finals.’
Jordaan added, ‘This will be the first time in World Cup history that the host nation is not topping the ticket sales list. It will be tragic if this trend continues and I appeal to local fans to come out and support their country.’
This may be desperation. South African bloggers repeatedly criticize ‘outrageous’ prices far beyond the pocket of the average fan.
In England fans who placed multiple internet orders hoping they might get tickets for at least some games are now burdened with unwanted and possibly unsalable tickets.
One England fan said, ‘I applied for tickets to seven matches for me and three friends. To my surprise I received everything I asked for. The trouble is that my three friends did the same and they have also obtained 28 tickets for the same seven matches. We now have 112 tickets for these games.’
Demand is so slow that last week the England FA admitted to fans, ‘We currently have enough tickets to satisfy demand for all our matches.’
The Dutch Federation is having problems selling its allocation and has asked FIFA to postpone the closing date for sales. A spokeswoman said, ‘In the past we had to lobby for more tickets, now we lobby for more time.’
There appears to be a similar lack of interest in Germany. The German federation refuses to reveal how many tickets they have sold for the first round games but reliable sources say the figure is likely to be less than 1,000.
Its been reported that some German cities are preparing to erect big screens in public places, as in 2006, for fans who prefer to stay home.
It’s the same story in Denmark where yet again, fans are turning their backs on FIFA’s rackets.
But FIFA are telling a different story. Last week they announced, ‘We have seen a significant rise in the interest of South African fans. In addition, currently the countries outside South Africa from which more requests have been received via FIFA.com are the United Kingdom, USA and Germany.’
The unofficial ticket dealers say that of the 48 matches in the first round, only three are easy to sell. ‘We can make money on England and the USA, Holland and Denmark and Brazil versus Portugal,’ said one. ‘There are ten additional games worth watching – like Germany and Serbia or Italy and Paraguay – but there’s no great demand for these tickets.
‘We can’t sell anything like the amount we expected in Mexico, Japan, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal. Only Brazilian sales are holding up. Dealers around the world are now stuck with rooms and tickets for games that people cannot afford to go to.’
Sales are even more disappointing in America where 79,000 tickets have been bought on the Internet by brokers and travel agents – who are now reported to be trying to re-sell at face value – just to dump them.