Do we want half-empty stadiums at the World Cup?

With concerns growing about the low number of World Cup 2010 tickets purchased by Africans and South Africans in particular, isn’t time someone got a grip of this issue before it is too late?

This article says there is something wrong when FIFA have tried to organise sales through tour operators who can’t afford deposits to secure tickets in the first place.

Making the vast majority of tickets available only on the Internet is also a problem if you’re trying to sell in areas of low connectivity.

But surely the biggest problem is the abject failure to appreciate the culture of match day buying. UK fans of a certain vintage will recall the days when you turned up hours before the game, queued in the rain, and crossed your fingers they didn’t close the gates before you got to the turnstile.

We live in a bright new world when ‘customers’ book tickets online, turn up five minutes before the start and settle into their comfy seats. In South Africa and Africa in general this is not the case. Fans turn up on the day or not at all. You have to wonder just what might happen if thousands turn up at South Africa’s games and can’t get in because they didn’t have Internet access.

Of the 3.1 million tickets available, over a million have now been sold. The current selling phase ends on January 22 after which organisers will assess the sales so far. Let’s hope this assessment involves some serious thinking about the practical ways to get fans into the stadiums.

Someone who may not be too displeased if hardly anybody sees his misfiring team is Diego Maradona. If he thought taking a few months out of the limelight would improve his situation, Argentina’s legendary No.10 is wrong. So says Rob Hughes of the New York Times.

Most fair-minded people are prepared to give the notion that Peter Crouch and Aaron Lennon should make the England squad a hearing. But are they really “crucial to the success of the England team at the World Cup”? Yes, according to Gary Mabbutt. Maybe, according to virtually everybody else.

And talking of predictable links, David Beckham has apparently booked himself a place in the England World Cup squad by returning to AC Milan. That’s according to ex-Man United team-mate Gary Neville, who won’t be going unless they need someone to carry the kit.

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