World Cup Officials have reason to be concerned for the upcoming event this summer in South Africa, as there are currently 500,000 tickets that are yet to be sold, with the potential for many matches to be viewed by empty stadiums.
With the tournament set to begin in June, World Cup organizers have fewer than two months to sell the tickets, which account for 25 percent of the total amount sold. FIFA stated that the unsold tickets will be available to the public beginning on April 15.
“I think that today there is one challenge that we definitely have to work on,” remarked FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke to the The Associated Press. “It’s to make sure all the stadiums are full and that we are selling all these tickets.”
Ticket organizers for the World Cup stated that the online process in which tickets could be purchased did not cater to local fans, who have little means of income, no credit cards, and are not familiar with the ways in which to purchase tickets via the Internet.
Valcke stated that “there is always time to learn.”
“If we do have empty stadiums, it will reinforce the idea that football is not supported in the country and that would be tragic,” said committee chief Danny Jordaan.
“The reality is that this is a football-mad country,” he continued and added that it would be “tragic” for South Africa if the stadiums were not filled.
Organizers implemented five total sales phrases, with FIFA stating that 2.2 million tickets were sold prior to the final phase installation. South Africa purchased 925,437 tickets, with United States at the next highest level with 118,945.
In the United Kingdom, only 67,654 tickets for the event have been sold. That number is less than the average crowd in attendance at a Manchester United match.
Germany has bought 32,269 tickets.
FIFA did not elaborate as to the extent of returned tickets that were given back by partners and related affiliates, only to say it was a “significant number.”
The sports’ governing body admitted to making several mistakes relating to ticket sales and the access people had to purchasing tickets in the host country.
“Yes, definitely, the approach at the beginning by using Internet and by using computers was not the most friendly system for the South Africans,” Valcke said of the issue.
Officials are encouraged by the interest that the United States has generated, which they believe is spearheaded by the way the team performed during the Confederation’s Cup last year in South Africa.
A different tune is being sung however as it relates to ticket sales on the European continent.
“Maybe we are getting too much [soccer],” Valcke remarked. “We are getting whatever we want. We have football matches every day. Either the Champions League or the Europa League or the club league or the cups.”
With respect to the tournament, Spain leads the way in the line of betting favorites as the country to beat in the 2010 World Cup, going off at 15/4 on Online Sportsbooks. Brazil and England follow, with Argentina and defending champion Italy rounding out the top-five.