Ticket-addled SA soccer fans force FIFA to modify rules

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Football governing body Fifa is reported to have admitted that the slow pace of ticket sales for next month’s Confederations Cup had made it realise that SA was a uniquely different environment to anything they had encountered in previous editions.

Fifa has spent the past few weeks amending some of its traditional ticketing procedures in a bid to get locals to buy tickets, and Fifa marketing director Thierry Weil said yesterday it had had to adapt to the South African way of doing things, media reports say.

“We have come to accept that SA is very different to what we are used to,” Weil is quoted saying. “The mentality is very different here because South Africans do not buy tickets to soccer matches until the last possible moment. If it looks as if we (Fifa) have given in to the South African fans, I do not know (…) But to us it actually proves our strength and our ability to adapt.”

South Africa, Italy, United States, Spain, Brazil , Iran Egypt and New Zealand and taking part in the tournament.

Reports say South African soccer fans initially showed scant interest in the eight-nation tournament — due to run from June 14 to 28 — and even 2010 organising committee CEO Danny Jordaan admitted that it was concerned by the seeming apathy displayed by South Africans.

Constant pleas to fans to purchase tickets fell on deaf ears, and Weil admitted there was a time when organisers were “scared” by the pace of sales.

It is said that fans complained that Fifa’s format of filling in application forms and then submitting the completed documents to First National Bank branches around the country was too complicated to comprehend after years of purchasing tickets over the counter. And as many of SA’s traditional soccer lovers have limited access to the internet, the alternative of applying online on the Fifa website was always going to be underutilised.

Fifa was eventually forced to simplify the ticketing procedure a few weeks ago, and tickets can now be purchased by merely picking up the phone and calling the ticketing call centre, and even over the counter.

The sale of tickets also picked up after Fifa agreed to bump up the proportion of cheap category-four tickets from 18% to 25% and relaxed the rules preventing individuals or companies from buying in bulk.

Weil said organisers were confident that with all the innovations that had been employed to encourage fans to purchase tickets, they had no doubt the event would be sold out.

“Yes, Africa is different. But we still need people to make an effort to arrive earlier than they are used to during the Confederations Cup.

“There will be several ticketing and security checkpoints leading up to the gates at the stadiums, and fans need to understand that they could be delayed if they arrive late.”

2010 World Cup  South Africa's preparation to host the games on African soil for the first time but also individual African countries' determination to take part in the historic event. Five African countries - Cameroon, Nigeria, Algeria, South Africa and Ghana - are selected to join twenty seven teams from around the world to battle it out on the football pitch for the gold trophy. One by one, the African teams are eliminated, but Africans will not be bogged down as they rally behind their compatriots on the wings of the vuvuzela, a far cry from the near diplomatic row between Algeria and Egypt during the qualifiers. Ghana are the last team to leave but not before African unity becomes reality...
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