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Mar 06 2009

World Cup 2010: Time for a “Rettungsaktion”

Published by at 12:58 pm under Opinion,Top Stories

Handelsblatt, a German business daily, reported yesterday about the “dramatically bad” ticket sales for the Confederation Cup. Apparently the SA government blamed the sponsors for not doing enough to promote the Confederation Cup and the World Cup to be staged in South Africa next year – and FIFA blamed the SA organisers.

In turn, the organisers blamed the local population for their disinterest in the events.

All in all, not a nice message to send around the world. 

I translated the article (below).

The World Cup ticket sales are progressing marginally better. In the first three weeks fans in 140 countries applied for 506,000 tickets (3.3 million tickets are up for sale). 

The interesting part is, however, that only 20% of that 506,000 and also just 20% of the “dramatically bad” sales of tickets for the Confederation Cup have been bought by South Africans. And this irritates the local organising committee. Although it shouldn’t.

Buying tickets in advance like this, is not “the culture” in South Africa. Decisions of this kind (and generally!) are made much more spontaneously than in Europe, where households plan their lives carefully months (if not years) into the future. South Africans are “last minute champions” – and I suspect the weak demand for tickets have something to do with this.

Also true is, of course, that the South African sporting public has traditionally been unable to get fired up about sporting events featuring “third parties” (teams other than their own). And this might be happening again with the Confederation Cup. That is, of course, a disaster in the making.

I suspect the World Cup event won’t have that problem. But, one can’t be sure and I’m eagerly waiting to see whether a football game between (say) Australia and Ireland in a stadium close to the Limpopo can draw a full house.

But, now on a more serious note. Both FIFA and the SA government should by now be on “red alert” regarding the ticket sales. And not for the reasons mentioned above, but for quite another reason (actually two reasons). Special meetings should already have been convened by a crisis committee to decide a crisis plan of action to promote both events, for the following reasons:

* The global economic crisis
* Crime and the political instability of 2008 in SA, which reached a low point with a killing-spree of non-South Africans. (Also read here.)

These two “events” have it in them to turn the FIFA World Cup 2010 into a flop. Don’t underestimate any one of these factors. Separately they are dangerous; together they are potentially lethal. The second one threatens to keep Africa away and the first one to keep the rest of the world away.

Just the fact that 70% of all hospitality packages for the World Cup in Germany in 2006 was bought by financial institutions (eg. banks), should already have switched the alarm bells on at the FIFA head office in Switzerland…(read here)…should have signalled to them that 2010 was not going to be a “business as usual” World Cup.

In short, much like the governments of the world have announced “Rettungspakette” for their economies, FIFA and the SA government should put a “Rettungspaket” together for the World Cup event. The implementation thereof can’t wait much longer.

The package could include steps, such as, the drastic reduction of prices of the cheapest World Cup tickets. At between $20 and $900 tickets are too expensive for South Africans and this might be another reason for the slow sales. A benchmark: For games in SA’s top league, spectators usually pay around $10.

The number of free tickets (140,000) set aside for locals could also be increased, but a $10 ticket would, in principle, be better than a free ticket.     

Here the article as it appeared in Handelsblatt:

JOHANNESBURG/DÜSSELDORF. Government spokesman Themba Maseko replied on Wednesday to views aired by FIFA that South Africans are showing to little enthusiasm for the Confederation Cup to be staged from 14 to 28 June this year in their country. Maseko said after a cabinet meeting: The SA government is also concerned about the fact that South Africans are not buying tickets and thinks not enough money is being put into promoting the Confederation Cup and World Cup. In the next two weeks all comunications and advertising strategies will be revisited.

The lack of promotion has financial roots, but also has to do with planning and coordination problems, said Maseko. The sponsors are part-responsible, since they do not advertise enough. Although many of them will launch their advertising campaigns in the coming weeks, eg. on softdrink cans.

Earlier FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke said in Johannesburg the stadiums will be ready, but no advertising is visible. Both events should immediately be advertised much more. “There is nothing – not even at the airport – indicating that Johannesburg is a host city of Confederation Cup games. I haven’t seen a single advertisement for the Confederation Cup to date,” said Valcke. “It is, however, impossible to get the people into the stadiums, without promotion of the event,” he said.

Still earlier Danny Jordan, boss of the local organising committee (NOK), had aired his unhappiness about the fact that only 20% of the tickets
for both events have been bought by South Africans. For the Confederation Cup only 170,000 have been sold to date – with 646,000 still looking for owners. A total of 506,000 applications have been received by FIFA for World Cup tickets.

Jordan criticised the sceptical attitude of the South African citizens. “In Canada and Australia the people are more euphoric about 2010 than in South Africa. And the same is happening with the Confederation Cup,” he complained.

end of article

One response so far

One Response to “World Cup 2010: Time for a “Rettungsaktion””

  1. adminon 08 Apr 2009 at 2:37 pm

    Danny Jordaan, local organiser of the FIFA World Cup, now says a total of 1,6 million applications had been received for the 743,000 tickets on sale in the first of five ticket selling rounds.

    A month ago the applications still only stood at 506,000…

    Why don’t I believe that number of 1,6 million? Maybe because it was to be expected that FIFA would “drum up” the excitement in this way? And create a frenzy with the impression that far too few tickets are being chased by far too many soccer fans around the world.

    But, what the hell. I want the event to be a success. So, go for it, Danny. Tell them all you want…just sell those tickets!

    PS. All in all 3,3 million tickets are up for grabs. So, to date we know (heh-heh) that at least half will be sold. Even that’s not so encouraging, come to think of it.

    Christo

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