JOHANNESBURG - More than 100,000 World
Cup tickets have been sold in less than two days since cash
sales began in South Africa, but the likely number of foreign
fans has been halved, chief organiser Danny Jordaan said.
Over-the-counter sales of tickets in South Africa, which
began on Thursday, ignited real World Cup fever here for the
first time and there was chaos as thousands of fans rushed to
buy, crashing the computer system.
MATCH, the travel agent arm of football's governing body FIFA,
apologised for the problems, during which fans fought in queues
after waiting for hours.
Police used pepper spray on brawling
fans in Pretoria and a pensioner died of a heart attack in Cape
Jordaan, boss of the local organising committee, told
Reuters on Friday that 101,000 tickets had been sold in the
final phase before the World Cup kicks off on June 11. Some
12,000 were international sales and the rest in South Africa.
He said only seven of the 64 matches still had tickets
available in the special $20 category available only to South
Africans. All matches of the national team Bafana Bafana and
most games with the other five African squads were sold out.
FIFA said tickets for 29 of the 64 World Cup matches were no
longer available including the July 11 final, two semi-finals,
the June 11 opening match and all matches in Durban and Cape
But it said a small number of returned tickets could still
come back on the market.
Jordaan said estimates for the number of foreign fans coming
for the World Cup, hit by the global economic slump, high air
fares and accommodation costs, had been revised to around
200,000, compared to the original forecast of 450,000.
He appealed to South Africans last week to snap up the
remaining 500,000 tickets from a total of 2.7 million, after
seats were returned from overseas and corporate customers.
He said on Friday the response was "Tremendous....they
reacted with huge enthusiasm and some of them spent 15 hours
waiting for a ticket."
He said the last time South Africans lined up like this was
in 1994 when they elected Nelson Mandela in the polls that ended
apartheid. "It was a wonderful experience to see," he said.
SURPRISE AT RESPONSE
Asked if he expected all the remaining tickets to be sold,
Jordaan said he was surprised how many had gone already
considering sales started before workers were paid on Fridays or
the end of the month.
"We are just into the second day and over 100,000 were sold.
We are very happy with the way things are going. We will see
more at the end of the month," he said.
There were queues again on Friday outside ticket offices and
some fans returned after waiting for hours on Thursday but the
atmosphere was much calmer and the computer system was
functioning better, witnesses said.
Jordaan said the number of foreigners arriving for the World
Cup would be similar to the last long haul tournament in South
Korea and Japan.
He said at the last World Cup in Germany in 2006, the big
European fan base could come for single matches, boosting
attendance but not the economic impact.
"Of course we cannot compare with Germany because it sits in
the middle of Europe... South Africa is a long haul destination
so we expect fans to come in and stay for a long period and
therefore the (economic) impact will be greater," he said.
Jordaan said the biggest economic impact for South Africa
would come from FIFA spending, which amounted to about $1
billion, followed by commercial sponsors and the local
organising committee which is spending 3.2 billion rand ($431
FIFA initially made tickets available only on the internet
and was criticised for misunderstanding South African culture
where the poor fans who are football's biggest supporters do
not have access to computers or bank accounts.
FIFA officials acknowledged the error and launched cash
sales from ticket offices on Thursday.
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