World Cup ticket frenzy

Cape Town’s Greenpoint stadium, a World
Cup venue, in the construction phase.
(Image: City of Cape Town.

Janine Erasmus

South Africans are lining up in their thousands to buy tickets to the long-awaited 2010 Fifa World Cup, with around a third of 1 635 136 ticket applications originating from the host country. The first phase of ticket sales ended at midnight on 31 March 2009, with the six-week first phase attracting intense interest and excitement from all over the world.

The 1.6-million-plus applications have come from 205 countries, all wanting their share of the 743 000 available tickets. South Africans make up the largest group of applicants, followed by the US, the UK, Germany, Italy and Australia. According to Fifa there were no problems experienced with the online or paper application system, and all indications point to the follow-up sales phases being even more hotly contested internationally.

Tickets for the opening game and the final, both taking place at Soccer City in Johannesburg on 11 June and 11 July respectively, were the most in demand. Category 3 tickets, which are the cheapest tickets available to overseas fans as Category 4 is reserved for South Africans, were the most popular.

Applications for team specific tickets – that is, tickets that allow fans to closely follow the progress of their favourite team – make up more than half the total number of applications received. “We are delighted that the team specific series is in such big demand, even before the actual fixtures for the tournament are known,” said Fifa honorary vice-president David Will, who also chairs the ticketing sub-committee.

Since the number of applications far exceeds the number of available tickets, all applications will be placed into a random draw to be held on 15 April 2009. This ensures that everybody has an equal chance of getting a ticket. Applications may be viewed on the Fifa website and applicants will be informed via SMS or e-mail at the end of April of the success or failure of their bid.

Still plenty of chances

The unlucky ones need not despair, as there are a further four sales phases in store.

Phase Two runs from 4 May to 16 November 2009. Applications are processed on a first come, first serve basis, so time is of the essence.

Phase Three runs from 5 December 2009 to 22 January 2010. Tickets will be allocated through a random draw that will take place on 1 February 2010. By this time the 32 finalists will be known and the draw for the group stages will have been settled.

Phase Four runs from 9 February to 7 April 2010. As in Phase Two, tickets will be allocated in the order in which applications are received – so the earlier the better.

Phase Five runs from 15 April to 11 June 2010 and is the last-minute sales phase. Application forms will be done away with in this phase and tickets may be purchased in real time – subject to availability – on the Fifa website and at First National Bank (FNB) branches.

Optimism and hope

Fifa reported that within the first 24 hours of ticket sales, 216 975 applications from 128 countries had been received online, which excludes the hard copies handed in by South African residents at branches of FNB. Local fans put in the biggest order during the initial period, followed by the UK, the US, Germany, Brazil, Australia, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Switzerland, Ireland, Netherlands, Spain and Argentina.

“It is the end of doubt and the beginning of optimism and hope – it is a wonderful time of celebration,” commented Local Organising Committee CEO Danny Jordaan on hearing the news.

“I feel as if we are at a high-point on this 15 year rollercoaster journey,” added Jordaan, referring to the moment during the 1994 Fifa Congress in Chicago when he and then South African Football Association president, the late Sticks Morewa, first talked about South Africa bidding to host the World Cup.

Good response

Initial fears of a half-hearted response to ticket sales have been totally swept away by the overwhelming number of applications received for the 2010 event.

“It is very pleasing to see the huge global interest in the first African Fifa World Cup,” said Jordaan, who has repeatedly advised South Africans to avoid their habit of waiting until the last minute, and get their applications in early. “We want to encourage even more South Africans and Africans to apply for their Fifa World Cup tickets during the next sales phase, so they do not miss out on this unique once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

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