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World Cup ticket sales lagging

2010 FIFA World Cup

Image via Wikipedia

The global economy is a mess. Airfare is expensive. Safety is a concern. Transportation within the country is a challenge.

What does it all mean for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, which kicks off in two months in Johannesburg? Lots of unsold tickets.

According to this Associated Press report, a half-million seats are available -- nearly a quarter of the tournament total -- and without an uptick in sales, organizers fear partially empty stadiums, particularly for matches involving less prominent teams.

For additional details, read the Reuters story.

The leading foreign ticket buyers: American-based supporters with 119,000, almost double the British purchases and more than three times beyond German sales. That does not mean all 119,000 are going over to support the U.S. team, however; our diversity and the passion for the sport in Latin American circles suggest that many attending will back nations such as Mexico, Honduras, Brazil, Argentina and others.

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By Steve Goff  |  April 9, 2010; 2:30 PM ET
Categories:  2010 World Cup , Africa , FIFA  | Tags: FIFA World Cup, Johannesburg, Soccer, South Africa, World Cup  
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Comments

That's what happens when they put the WC in undesirable places. Have it in the USA, England, Germany, Italy.....no problem on empty seat!!!

Posted by: euroman | April 9, 2010 2:45 PM | Report abuse

I'd be willing to take risks with transportation and crime. But price gouging for airfare and lodging is what's keeping me from even thinking about going. If prices start dropping... then I'll start thinking.

Posted by: Miles_Standish_Proud | April 9, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Blatter robblerobblerobble safety robblerobblerobble price gouging robblerobblerobble winter robblerobblerobble poverty robblerobblerobble

wake me when the games start.

Posted by: dimesmakedollars | April 9, 2010 2:51 PM | Report abuse

does any of this effect the HD video feeds that ESPN is going to receive? if not, then I don't care.

Posted by: VTUnited | April 9, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

That many fewer vuv... vu... vuvalapoozas... whatever those things are called.

Nonetheless, it's still a lot of foreign money going into a part of the world that could use the spending. I hope it kickstarts some economic growth there.

Posted by: Rand-al-Thor | April 9, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

it says a lot for the potential of the game here in the States though. whether it's in regard to interest for high level competition, or the disposable income to spend on the sport. just too bad it's taking so long to get off the ground here. we have come a long way since '94 though...

Posted by: beergorila | April 9, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

$3,000+ for airfare for the month during the World Cup, more than double a normal airfare to JoBurg, should explain it all. I don't think it really has much to do with the security or in-country transportation. Fans just can't see spending twice as much as normal to fly to see their team play live when they can watch in the comfort of their home for pennies.

Posted by: Russtinator | April 9, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

FIFA is set up to have two bad if not complete failures for world cups in SA and Brazil. Brazil is a football mad country, but their crime and infastructure issues are much like SA. Cost of travel will always be an issue when traveling to a world cup. It aint ever cheap to go to the cup, unless it is help in your home country. And even then the tickets are not cheap. I remember how much tickets cost for the 94 cup. My parents layed out a lot of cash for two seats to all 5 games in DC. Still the best gift they have ever given me. The tickets have only gotten more expensive, so I can understand why there are so many unsold seats. It is a very bad sign that corprate sponsers are returning tickets. I have a feeling that at the end of the day the seats will get filled, if not sold. Expect a huge FIFA anouncement the week berfore the cup saying that they are "inviting" the youth af SA to the cup and will be giving away free or really cheap tickets

Posted by: jjfooty | April 9, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

does any of this effect the HD video feeds that ESPN is going to receive? if not, then I don't care.

Posted by: VTUnited | April 9, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

I suppose the vuvuzelas are still allowed into the stadiums. That will affect the quality of your HD experience on ESPN.

Posted by: WorldCup | April 9, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

difference is that Brazil and neighboring countries can afford to buy tix, so you have a local market. not only is South Africa have a much smaller population, but a much greater percentage of that population is poor. Brazils WC should be OK, but this one is an economic loser. still, FIFA's insatiable lust for money should be whetted by this which should only help our WC hosting bid.

and as to kick starting economic growth? it just saddled the country with massive debt. you can't eat the concrete at soccer city...or convert it to schools or turn it into any generator of income.

Posted by: troy6 | April 9, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

I know full well that I'm treading into choppy waters here, but I think it's still an interesting point for discussion:

The marketing of this WC has seemed to have much more of a "wow, look, Africa!" Feel to it than the equivalent efforts of former WC's. Could the relative lack of football promotion, and focus on the cultural aspects of the event have negatively impacted Euro excitement in the lead up?

Posted by: Logan_Circle | April 9, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

difference is that Brazil and neighboring countries can afford to buy tix, so you have a local market. not only is South Africa have a much smaller population, but a much greater percentage of that population is poor. Brazils WC should be OK, but this one is an economic loser. still, FIFA's insatiable lust for money should be whetted by this which should only help our WC hosting bid.

and as to kick starting economic growth? it just saddled the country with massive debt. you can't eat the concrete at soccer city...or convert it to schools or turn it into any generator of income.

Posted by: troy6 | April 9, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

sorry for double post and the syntax errors. computer not my friend today.

Posted by: troy6 | April 9, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Bought in for Japan/Korea and for Germany.

This time, the travel costs to get there, and to a lesser extent the travel costs in country and the security situation made it a no-go.

At least this way, less of my money ends up going to Sepp, Jack and their cronies. I'm sure I'll give them plenty the next time around in Brazil.

Posted by: CDRHoek | April 9, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

@troy6
Great point about the close proximity other countries to Brazil craeting a market. The richest folks in Argentina, and Venezuela, Columbia etc...will be able to afford tickets, but the poor folks still wont buy tickets. I still feel that the crime in Brazils big cities will scare away many north americans and europeans, even if they are a bit ill informed. I will sit the next two cups out and watch on TV. When we get to host the cup in 2018 or 2022 I will take my as of now unborn kid to the games.
I do think is is a great sign for the level of interest in the US that we have bought up the most tickets outside of SA.

Posted by: jjfooty | April 9, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

According to the Reuters article, FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke said "American demand for World Cup tickets [which is the highest outside of South Africa and way above 3rd place England] had been boosted by the work of the U.S. soccer federation to promote the game, and by the large number of Hispanic fans in the country."

I wonder if Valcke really knows the percentage of Hispanic Americans buying the 118,000 World Cup tickets, and if he's even right. This feels like an example of Europeans holding on to out-dated beliefs regarding interest in soccer among white Americans. It feels as though, without checking the statistics (if ethnic origin is even collected during ticket purchases), he's saying "Americans couldn't possibly like soccer so much, so it must be the Latinos." I don't know, but I think he's wrong.

Posted by: WorldCup | April 9, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Here's the Freedom preview that you've been waiting for. Or maybe I'm the only one waiting for it.

http://www.potomacsoccerwire.com/news/460/10741

Posted by: OWNTF | April 9, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

@worldcup
I agree with you. I dont think Valcke knows what he is talking about. Another FIFA official opening his mouth wide enough to stick his foot in. Does Sepp give lessons on this?

Posted by: jjfooty | April 9, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

"American-based supporters"

Oh, is that FIFA's new term for scalpers? ;-)

Seriously though - I'm guessing there are a lot of Americans with many different motives buying tickets. Lots of US fans who want to be there, ticket brokers and sure, definitely some who want to support Mexico/Honduras/etc.

Posted by: Kev29 | April 9, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

In terms of % of population, US-icans and Germans bought an equal amount of tickets, and Britain bought 3.6 times as many.

Posted by: OWNTF | April 9, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

We would be going if not for the 6,000 in airfare. My best friend is living there but I can't justify that cost when I can spend 1/3 of that in October to go over...oh well

Posted by: strago | April 9, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

http://www.gq.com/blogs/the-q/2010/04/the-sporting-event-you-must-watch-this-weekend.html


Pretty good "meet the cast" for El Clasico from GQ. At least for the "soccer ignorant", but entertaining nonetheless.


Is there ANY way to get the demos on those American tckets? Y'all raise a great point with that conversation.

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | April 9, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Jack Warner's ticket brokers better get working on moving those 500,000!

Posted by: VirginiaBlueBlood | April 9, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Would have loved to go. Was super excited when it was awarded to South Africa, the destination was a plus for me. But then I saw how much gouging on airfare and hotels was happening and couldnt justify it anymore.

it's a real shame. south africa is a fantastic country but 300%+ markups are way too much. i dont begrudge a little extra during special events. but at that level, it's even worse than the nats.

Posted by: PindarPushkin | April 9, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

The United's stadium saga was written up by ESPN Soccernet today, nothing new other than the nationals coverage.

http://soccernet.espn.go.com/columns/story?id=768545&sec=mls&root=mls&cc=3888

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | April 9, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Jack Warner's ticket brokers better get working on moving those 500,000!

Posted by: VirginiaBlueBlood | April 9, 2010 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Don't you worry - Jack-Jack will still manage a way to funnel profits back to himself somehow. This is FIFA, we are talking about.

Posted by: IamAM | April 9, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Strangely enough, the story to which "I'm on a boat!" posted a link also has a photo caption referring to some team called "The United."

Posted by: CDRHoek | April 9, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

http://www.southafrica.info/2010/england-231009.htm

"In the 2006 Fifa World Cup in Germany, a total of 150 000 English fans travelled to watch matches, although a look at the 2002 FIFA World Cup in South Korea/Japan – a similar travelling distance from the UK to South Africa – shows that only 20 000 English fans travelled to the tournament."

So what were ticket sales from Europe for Japan/Korea? I seem to remember massive local sales for that World Cup and no one seemed to complain about that. From the articles posted it looks like South Africans haven't really had an opportunity to get all of the available tickets.

Posted by: csd1 | April 9, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

http://www.soccerphile.com/soccerphile/archives/wc2002/ne/espp.html

Tickets unsold Japan/Korea

"It appears it is from these allocations that the unsold tickets originate, as all tickets available to the general public sold out. It is estimated that only between 50-60% of tickets set aside for sponsors and football associations were actually purchased."

Posted by: csd1 | April 9, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

http://www.360footballnews.com/index.php/off-the-pitch-archive/45-off-the-pitch/1263-security-costs-slow-world-cup-ticket-sales-in-germany

"Sales are normal and similar to the 2002 World Cup, and the comparison with 2002 offers itself because of the similar distance and the resulting costs," said Niersbach, who still expects vocal support at the June 11-July 11 event.

"Absolutely, because there is great interest for the team locally. But we should not compare it with the 2006 World Cup when Germany were hosts. Even for the 2002 final in Yokohama (between Brazil and Germany) we only sold 2,144 tickets to German fans," Niersbach said.

Posted by: csd1 | April 9, 2010 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Fewer fans hopefully = fewer vuvzelas = BIG win for everyone!

Posted by: jake77 | April 9, 2010 6:23 PM | Report abuse

I'm not going because I think the hotels and transportation are going to be a complete snafu.

Posted by: Reignking | April 9, 2010 10:12 PM | Report abuse

South africa was always a horrible idea. Crime is completely out of control in joberg.

Posted by: papple | April 9, 2010 10:35 PM | Report abuse

I know full well that I'm treading into choppy waters here, but I think it's still an interesting point for discussion:

The marketing of this WC has seemed to have much more of a "wow, look, Africa!" Feel to it than the equivalent efforts of former WC's. Could the relative lack of football promotion, and focus on the cultural aspects of the event have negatively impacted Euro excitement in the lead up?

=========================

I'll make them choppier. HIV/AIDS infection is so rampant in South Africa that many are staying home out of health concerns. Officially the infection rate is 1 in 6 has HIV/AIDS. Unofficially, it's 1 in 4.

Posted by: hofbrauhausde | April 10, 2010 5:34 AM | Report abuse

One other thing: what has not been so well reported in the U.S. has been very well reported in Europe: the South African Organizing Committee has bungled this so badly that, privately, FIFA never expects the World Cup to be hosted in an African country again. Who wants to buy tickets to a potential disaster?

Posted by: hofbrauhausde | April 10, 2010 5:56 AM | Report abuse

I'll make them choppier. HIV/AIDS infection is so rampant in South Africa that many are staying home out of health concerns. Officially the infection rate is 1 in 6 has HIV/AIDS. Unofficially, it's 1 in 4.
Posted by: hofbrauhausde
================

????????. You do realize that HIV is not an airborne-transmitted virus, don't you?

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | April 10, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

You do realize that visitors from abroad often do more than breathe the air, don't you? There is a whole industry devoted to the exchange of bodily fluids. And I hate to bring this up, but sometimes people are forced to exchange bodily fluids with their assailants. I believe this happens in South Africa at a higher rate than just about anywhere else on earth.

Posted by: universityandpark | April 10, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

The social experiment of giving SA a world cup sounded so cute at the time. LOL

Posted by: cr10 | April 10, 2010 9:39 PM | Report abuse

Recently the Cele said nothing he can say will be as persuasive as what World Cup fans will experience. He is determined that they go home telling a South African success story.some news updates in the http://www.dozensports.com
.South Africa’s crime rate, among the highest in the world, has been a concern since it won the bid to become the first African host of soccer’s World Cup. The tournament kicks off June 11.

Posted by: anthonystrickland | April 16, 2010 7:06 AM | Report abuse

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