26 April 2010
World football’s governing body is expecting a spectator turnout of 95-97% for the 2010 Fifa World Cup™ – numbers also achieved in Germany in 2006. Fifa is also confident that more than 300 000 tickets left for the tournament will be sold out before kick-off on 11 June.
Addressing the media in Zurich on Friday, Fifa president Sepp Blatter said that, judging by the tickets sales and the excitement around Africa’s first World Cup, there was no reason to get numbers below what was achieved in Germany.
He alluded to the fact that more than 200 000 tickets had been sold in first eight days of the latest sales phase. “If we can sell so many tickets in eight days, what can stop us from selling 300 000 in the next days left,” Blatter said.
Fifa is also considering reviewing its ticketing policy following lessons learnt in South Africa. “This World Cup has taught us a lot of lessons,” said Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke. “Maybe we need to be more flexible moving forward to 2014.”
Blatter, who played an instrumental role in bring the tournament to Africa, said the excitement shown by South Africans towards the tournament over the past weeks has made him even more confident.
Millions of South Africans have risen to the occasion by taking part in several initiatives aimed at boosting the country’s image as a soccer loving nation.
These include the Football Fridays initiative, which Blatter described as “phenomenal”, and the Fly the Flag for Football campaign. The 50 days countdown, a campaign organised by the Local Organising Committee, also attracted a lot international media attention.
“I wouldn’t say I’m nervous; I’m like an actor getting ready to go to the stage … the adrenalin is pumping,” Blatter said.
It was Blatter who, in 1998, amid protest from several football associations across Europe, called for the rotation policy in Fifa to give an African country an opportunity to host the World Cup.
It took him months of lobbying and convincing to get the majority of Fifa members to pass the rotation system.
South African and Egypt were among the first African countries to show interest in hosting the event, launching bids to host the 2006 World Cup in 2000. South Africa lost to Germany by one vote.
Blatter admitted that had it not been for the rotation system, it was unlikely that the current generation of South Africans would be able to see the soccer spectacular live on their doorstep.
He was too happy to see the tournament being played in the country of Nelson Mandela. “Our only wish is for him to attend, and we are crossing our fingers that Nelson Mandela can realize his goal to attend the first world cup in South Africa, and we are told he is doing very well.”