Wednesday, June 16, 2010

World Cup Fever - FIFA Critique, A Canadian's View

At first glance the FIFA ticketing process seemed quite robust. I entered my choices in the first round of the lottery, was billed a few months later, and received an email notifying me that I'd purchased tickets a month or so after that. The trouble began when I tried to determine what matches I was seeing, in order to arrange all the necessary travel arrangements. My FIFA on-line account contained no information about the tickets I'd purchased. All that was there were FIFA bingo and fantasy football. No comparison to the VANOC site, which I'd used a few months before. I was informed that I'd receive a ticket confirmation in the mail by May 1st, which was extended to the middle of May. I emailed and got no response, I phoned and never got an agent. Eventually, I did receive the confirmation and was very pleased with my tickets, but the process was very stressful.

Note: After talking to a number of fans, some shared my experience, and it appeared to be restricted to the first two rounds of ticket sales.

Upon arrival at 5:00 am I learned that the automatic booths at the airport (a major ticket collection location) were closed outside of business hours. Imagine if ABMs were closed outside of a bank's hours. What's the point? Then there was the run-around I received prior to my first match. Only one private security guard knew where to pick up tickets. He told me that fans were in tears at the opening game, believing that they wouldn't be able to enter the stadium.

The name and passport number that I'd entered for me and a guest was not checked; furthermore, all the tickets had only my name on it. So much for all the rules on security and application forms to trade or sell tickets. FIFA created a convoluted system, required people to adhere to it and then abandoned it.

Once inside the arena everything ran smoothly and there was a surplus of information volunteers. The match was an incredible experience, but FIFA has to do much better in this modern age. Maybe that day will come when some form of television replay gets incorporated into the officiating.

I am surprised that empty seats have been shown on TV. Apparently in 2002 buses went into the Asian countryside to get spectators to fill seats. The only deception here was the 1,000 or so Chinese actors at the North Korean game.

On a separate note, SABC provides local commentary for all the African nation matches, which provides a different take on the game that I quite enjoy.

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