Ticketing for 2010 FIFA World Cup: update

Sports, Arts and Culture

08 March 2010
Chairperson: Mr BM Komphela (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Ticket sales for the World Cup were progressing well. Over two million tickets had been sold and some 800 000 tickets were still available. Many matches had been sold out already. It might be confusing that matches were declared sold out but yet tickets then became available. This was because various interest groups within the FIFA community did not take up all their allocations, and these tickets were then released for sale to the general public. The final phase of sales would commence on 15 April 2010 where the public could buy tickets for cash at ticket centres throughout the country.

Members were concerned about the accessibility of tickets to people with disabilities and in the rural areas. While the internet had been the preferred means of distribution, most of the ticket centres would be in the host cities. Ticket sales would still be done at all branches of First National Bank.

FIFA had realised that not all South Africans enjoyed internet access. They had also misjudged the price preferences of the local market. Sales to South Africans were better than in other host countries.

 

Meeting report

The Chairperson said that the recent cycling accident in Oudtshoorn illustrated the need for the Safety at Sports and Recreation Events Bill. This was currently before the National Council of Provinces and needed to be passed to prevent such tragedies.

Mr J van der Linde (DA) agreed wholeheartedly as he had been in a similar position some years previously.

The Chairperson said that Match had been invited to clarify problems on the issue of ticketing. There was no alternate procedure in the event of an applicant in the ticket lottery not being given tickets. Applicants were only told that their request had been declined without being told what to do next. Even some of the Members had seen their applications declined. People were only advised some four months later. This made it more difficult for people to make use of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to watch a World Cup match live.

Dr Danny Jordaan (CEO: 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee (LOC)) thanked the Members for their participation on the recent media tour. He also thanked Parliament for its investment in the World Cup. The tour had demonstrated the country's state of readiness to present the tournament. He had attended a meeting in Zurich with the police chiefs of thirty of the 32 participating countries. They were convinced that all the security plans were in place. The ticket issue was that all people should have equal access to tickets. This is why FIFA had used the internet as the medium of choice for ticket sales. South Africa was a developing country and there was limited access to the internet. The LOC therefore had to consider other methods. He and the delegation were members of a ticketing committee.

The Chairperson said that no members had any doubt over the intentions. However, one of the journalists from another African country had said that all other host countries should have been placed under the same scrutiny as South Africa. There was no Plan B. The World Cup was now just 97 days away.

Mr Farouk Seedat (Chief Financial Officer, LOC) presented a historical background. Ticket sales had been launched in February 2009. The total number of tickets for sale was more than 3 million. There were various categories and prices. Tickets were also reserved for rights holders and customer groups. All four categories of ticket were for sale to the general public. They were currently in the fourth sales phase. So far 1 149 176 tickets had been sold to the general public. They had been forced to make more tickets available to the public as the budget for this sector compared to the expected number of 743 000. The United States of America was the overseas country with the most sales, at over 107 000. The United Kingdom, Germany and Australia had the next most sales. Of other African countries, the most sales had been 1 400 in Mozambique with Botswana in second place. During the fourth phase 194 000 tickets had become available. The demand in South Africa was far exceeding that overseas. Total tickets sales to date were 2.1 million. There were still 833 000 tickets available.

Mr D Lee (DA) said that people were still battling to get tickets but Members were now being told that tickets were still available. He asked how these ticket could be accessed. So many applications had been declined.

Mr G MacKenzie (COPE) asked for a breakdown of the ticket availability in the different host cities. He understood that there was only one match in Durban which was not already sold out.

Mr L Suka (ANC) asked how people in the rural areas could access tickets. He asked how extensively marketing in the rest of Africa had been conducted. Of the contingent of 120 journalists, many from Africa were asking what was happening.

Mr M Dikgacwi (ANC) asked about prices.

The Chairperson felt that the ticketing process was not completely fair to South Africans.

Dr Jordaan replied that over-the-counter sales would commence on 15 April 2010. This would happen at the ticketing centres. There were still 311 000 tickets available. The majority of the matches had been sold out, but other matches still had tickets available. The LOC had engaged with Port Elizabeth, Mbombela and Polokwane on the lack of sales for their matches. Transport would be a problem for people in the rural areas. For example, Mbombela was a short road journey from Mbabane in Swaziland and Maputo in Mozambique. Match tickets and transport could be marketed as a package. He could not say from where the buses would come. The price of Category 4 tickets had been set at USD 20. These had been pegged at a fixed exchange rate of R7 to the dollar. It was an ongoing matter.

Mr S Mmusi (ANC) asked how the system would cater for those with special needs.

The Chairperson said that he had forwarded the LOC a letter he had received regarding access for the disabled. The letter came from the South African Disability Alliance. Facilities at two of the stadiums were inadequate.

Mr Jaime Byrom (Executive Chairman, MATCH) said that MATCH defined three types of access. The first was entities which had rights such as FIFA's commercial partners, hospitality organisations and television rights holders. There was a window of opportunity for these groups to obtain their tickets until one month after the final draw. Some latitude had to be given so that these bodies could make their plans once it was known which teams would be playing where. Ticket options not taken up by these groups would be redistributed to the general public. The second group was those entities which were granted the right to purchase tickets. These were the member associates of FIFA, the LOC and FIFA secretariat. Tickets which were redistributed would be made available in a lottery. The random draw would be made on 7 April 2010.

The Chairperson noted that the system did not give reasons for applications being declined.

Mr Byrom said that persons who had applied for tickets in Categories 1 to 3 would be automatically entered into the lottery for lower categories should tickets in the category applied for be unavailable. The reverse could not be done as MATCH might be seen as forcing people to take tickets they could not afford. People whose applications were declined in the first phase of sales could apply in the second phase, which would be done on a first come first served basis.

My Byrom said that 11% of all tickets had been designated as Category 4. These tickets were only available for South Africans. The experience of previous World Cups was that the Category 1 tickets were the most popular. An increased number of Category 4 tickets would be released. These tickets were the cheapest in the history of the World Cup.

My Byrom said that the number of tickets for persons with special needs was dependent on the facilities in the different stadiums. All these tickets would be sold exclusively to persons with disabilities. He said that in the 2002 and 2006 events almost all the tickets had been sold online. They had realised that this would not be the case in South Africa. The partnership with First National Bank (FNB) had been productive, with tickets sales at all of their branches in the country. About 1.5 million ticket applications had been printed for sale at FNB branches, but most of these had not been used.

Mr Byrom said that MATCH had responded to the challenges of the last few months. Some people were not comfortable in going to the bank to buy tickets, and many did not have internet access. A telephone number had been set up to handle telephonic sales. From 15 April, as they entered the home straight for ticket sales, over-the-counter sales for cash would be conducted at ticket centres. This was the way South Africans preferred to make their purchases.

Mr Byrom said that tickets would not be provided until 15 April. This would curb fraud. MATCH wanted to prevent tickets being sold on the parallel market. They wanted to prevent forgery and the tickets would contain a number of security features. However, forgers could still make copies which would be convincing enough at face value. They would not be good enough to allow entry into the venues. While the allocation of tickets had been confirmed in many cases, the physical issue of tickets was embargoed until 15 April. During the Confederations Cup, people had tried to enter the grounds with newspaper cuttings of tickets. The forgers would take the peoples' money but could not reproduce the genuine product.

Mr Byrom said that some matches and ticket categories might not be available at present, but tickets committed to various entities might be redistributed. In the round of 16, 16% of tickets were reserved for the participating countries. It might well be the case that not all of these tickets had been sold in those countries, in which case the remainder would be put up for sale at late notice, even within an hour of the qualification being confirmed.

Mr Lee asked where the ticket sales from 15 April would take place. He wanted to know if this would only be happening in the host cities.

Mr MacKenzie asked when the redistribution of tickets for matches in the preliminary round would take place. He asked what channels would be used as this might include telephonic and over-the-counter sales.

Mr Byrom replied that they were already open for business. Not every game had been sold out. Even some Category 4 tickets were still available. Until 15 April all existing purchasing channels would be available. Online purchases were subject to validation checks. During the free lottery, people might be tempted to make a number of applications to improve their chances of success. Where people were making multiple applications, their applications would be cancelled. MATCH had the right to do this to ensure fairness. The validation process would be relaxed in the current phase. There would still be a check that an applicant had not already been allocated tickets for that match. Sales would continue through FNB branches. Tellers could check online to determine if tickets were available. Telephonic bookings were subject to the applicant having a valid debit or credit card.

Mr Byrom said that there would be at least one ticket centre in each of the home cities. These would be operational as from 15 April. There would be two centres in Johannesburg and Durban. There would also be ticket centres at the three major airports, namely Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. There would be nineteen other centres in the country.

Mr MacKenzie asked how people should go about reselling tickets if a change of circumstances prevented the ticket holder from attending the match.

The Chairperson said that the pending Act would prohibit the sale of complimentary tickets.

Mr Byrom was happy that a law would be in place to prevent reselling of tickets.

The Chairperson said that the Committee's concerns had been addressed. He was happy that there would be nineteen additional centres. He mentioned the example of people in Kirkwood, near Port Elizabeth. People did not understand the process. There was still not enough communication with the public. He was excited by what was being done for the people. The people had to realise that the South African population was 48 million and there were only 3 million tickets available. The vast majority would not be able to get a ticket for any match. He appreciated the efforts of MATCH. He asked that the Committee be provided with the telephone sales number. It was a pity that a list of matches with unsold tickets could not be provided.

Mr Byrom provided the number. This was in the written presentation.

Dr Jordaan said that there were just more than 90 days to the kick off. He had visited Parliament many times. They had done well to sell 1 million tickets to South Africans. In 2006 the Germans had only bought 800 000 tickets. In fact they had asked South Africa for unused tickets. The Category 4 ticket prices were the best that had been provided for some time. Given the number of people who would not be able to go to the ground, the role of the fan parks and public viewing areas would be important. He thanked the Committee for their support and advice.

Mr Lee asked where the nineteen additional points of sale would be. Their locations had to be communicated to the people.

The Chairperson asked that the list be sent to the Committee Secretary so that Members could inform their constituents.

Mr Byrom said that the FNB branches were still the best option. The nineteen additional venues would be mainly in the host cities.

The meeting was adjourned.

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