Sunday, March 8, 2009



Sunday Times Editorial
Mar 08, 2009

The World Cup train is coming to a station near you, and if you don’t wake up soon, it will have passed you by.

And despite some potentially great matches — Italy versus Brazil, Bafana versus Spain, Egypt versus Brazil — ticket purchases for the Confederations Cup in June have been woeful.

Although we should reserve judgment on the slow start to World Cup ticket applications, all the anecdotal evidence suggests that, for whatever reasons, South African residents have been slow to take advantage of these too. Why?

Is the process of buying tickets online for the Confed Cup alienating? Impractical for those without computers? Does it presume too much of a population that , by and large, is used to pitching up an hour or two before a PSL game without a ticket and buying one at the gate?

The process of applying for World Cup tickets is unwieldy and confusing, but does this in itself account for the slow uptake? Perhaps more could be made of marketing and promoting both events.

South African society isn’t like the settled, prosperous societies that are used to making online ticket applications and purchases.

Perhaps more should be done to make the ticketing process more accessible to South Africans.

The problem, though, is that the World Cup is a party to which everyone is invited — and Fifa, world soccer’s governing body, has discovered what works for it, which is to sell tickets online through a system of initial applications followed by a subsequent lottery.

Indeed, it’s probably wrong to lay too much of the blame for locals’ limited participation at Fifa’s door. The real villains of the piece here seem to be the Local Organising Committee (LOC). They don’t appear to have made enough of marketing both competitions.

There haven’t been enough road shows reaching into the very fabric of society, urban and rural, explaining what it’s all about, taking nothing for granted, and talking people through all aspects of the World Cup. There aren’t enough billboards. There aren’t enough posters. There aren’t enough fliers in taxis, explaining it all.

There is just no razzmatazz heralding one of the greatest shows on earth. Yes, the stadiums are going up at a healthy clip. Entire precincts, like the one around Ellis Park, have been given impressive makeovers; roads have been widened, off-ramps and on-ramps built. This is all good. But when it comes to aspects of organisation which are softer than building and widening, things that don’t involve bricks and mortar, the LOC has been less than impressive.

Danny Jordaan and the team that won the World Cup for South Africa have done very little to sell the spectacle to South Africans. If they continue to rest on their laurels, 2010 will be just another Fifa World Cup. It will be hosted here, in our country, but will have very little local flavour or fervour.

Some of the global masters of the beautiful game are headed for our shores in just three months — and they will be here in full force next year. It’s time to get our act together, tap into the magic and be part of making this truly and uniquelyours.