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Africans wary of World Cup ticket prices

By Mark Gleeson
April 3, 2009

The first phase of ticket sales for the 2010 World Cup closed on Tuesday night with 1.6 million applications received.

This is more than two applications per available ticket although there is likely to be much more demand for the matches during the exciting knockout phase of the tournament than for the opening two weeks of group play.

Of those 1.6 million, about 70 percent are overseas applicants, meaning 500,000 applications were received from residents of host nation South Africa and elsewhere on the African continent.

This contrasts starkly with six million applications received at the same stage of the sale phase ahead of the 2006 finals in Germany.

Obviously the market in Europe is concentrated, more affluent and has a longer footballing tradition.

But it is a disappointing return from Africa and suggests that while the continent might be hosting the World Cup, it is not really participating fully in this historic event.

FIFA believe there is a marketing problem but no one has to sell football to Africans and there are few on the continent unaware that the World Cup will be hosted in South Africa next June.

Instead it speaks rather to the price of tickets, which range from US$20 for the cheapest to US$900 for the best seat in the house at the final in Johannesburg on July 11.

FIFA insist these are more than fair prices for a premium international sports event but even if they have a valid point the tickets remain far too expensive for the African pocket.

And this was supposed to be the World Cup that afforded Africans a rare opportunity to see the world’s top footballing stars first hand.

At least that is how FIFA president Sepp Blatter first sold it. “We have to give something back to Africa,” he said on numerous occasions as he lobbied for the rotation policy on World Cup hosting which ensured the 2010 event would be played on the continent.

But while South Africa has built impressive-looking stadiums, spruced up its infrastructure and spent way above what was originally budgeted, the majority of its regular football fans are not going to get a chance to see the tournament.

FIFA might point to the fact they intend to give 120, 000 tickets away to the poorest of the poor but for the rest, the prices, even at US$20, mean going to the games is out of the reach of the common folk this World Cup was suppose to touch.

Instead it will be a middle class, almost touristy event with the sounds and sights of Africa on its fringe rather than at its centre.


I think $20 is a perfectly fair price to see a World Cup match as a South African. With concerns over safety (you presumably witnessed what just happened in Abidjan) and a huge bill to foot, cheap seats can’t be haphazardly allocated to the masses, as much as that would help the optics of this World Cup.And I think it’s naive to think that someone living in dollar a day poverty wouldn’t turn around and scalp their ticket to an overpaying tourist in a second.

Posted by Brandon | Report as abusive

I bet alot of africans want to go to the world cup..but there too lazy to fill out the applications..Theyll all be rushing to get in when it starts..but paper work is enough of a barrier to stop them from applying early.

Posted by clay Aiken | Report as abusive

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