Quiet start to World Cup ticket sale in South Africa

February 21st, 2009 - 2:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Soweto (South Africa), Feb 21 (DPA) Tickets for the 2010 football World Cup went on sale Friday, but in host country South Africa there was little evidence of tournament’s fever.

The tickets went on sale in around 700 branches of South Africa’s First National Bank (FNB) at the start of business around 9 a.m (0700 GMT). The online sale began four hours later on the website of football’s organising body FIFA.

After urging South Africans to move quickly on tickets, FIFA’s local organising committee had to appeal for indulgence Friday when it transpired that not all FNB branches had received the application forms.

If they were expecting the banks to be besieged by applications, they need not have worried.

In the apparent absence of radio, television or billboard advertisements, many people who missed the media reports weren’t aware they could start securing a seat.

“I didn’t even realise the tickets are going on sale today. You’re giving me news,” exclaimed Yusuf Rajah, a middle-aged business owner standing in line for a teller at an FNB branch in the mixed-race Johannesburg neighbourhood of Mayfair.

Rajah was clutching a maroon application form he had just plucked from a stack on a stand.

“I’m definitely interested in obtaining tickets,” he said. Not to see the home side, Bafana Bafana, though. “I’d much rather see Brazil,” he confides.

Yusuf Boda, a father of two soccer-mad boys, agreed. “I’m South African but my favourite team is Brazil.”

Seeing a team like Brazil in a World Cup final was a “once in a lifetime opportunity for us,” he enthused. For the honour, he was prepared to pay about 10,000 rand - enough for three category-three tickets.

In Soweto township, where the opening game and the final on July 11 will be played, there was also no sign of a run on tickets at the FNB branch in Maponya mall, an upmarket shopping centre that was opened last year by former president Nelson Mandela.

Soweto is the home of South African football, where derbies between local rivals, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, are habitually crammed to overflowing.

“It’s quite confusing,” said Peter Nong, a Soweto resident, after getting a briefing on how to buy tickets, using cash, cheque or bank transfer. “The teams we want to watch are not yet there.”

Peter’s plans for the 2010 World Cup reveal a lot of forward planning for the 2014 Cup in Brazil.

“I want to get friends from Brazil to stay with me in Pimville (Soweto),” he says. He will take care of their food and transport. Then they must do it for me that side in 2014,” he says smiling.

In total, around three million purchasable tickets will be available for the tournament, being held for the first time on the African continent. Some 740,000 tickets are up for grabs - the first in five phases of ticket sales between now and the final.

This phase, which runs until March 31, is on a random selection draw basis, meaning people applying at any time during that period will have an equal chance of scoring a ticket.

The draw for tickets for oversubscribed games takes place April 15.

FIFA is hoping around 450,000 fans will travel to the tournament.

The actual tickets, which range in price from $80 dollars to $900 for overseas visitors, will only be available for collection from April 2010, in South Africa.

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