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FIFA: Lack of demand for finals tickets

19 February 2010 18:15

(GSM) - FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke blamed the disappointing performance in the VIP sector on the economic crisis. Price gouging and security fears over South Africa are also causing many fans to forgo the World Cup.

Only half of the VIP tickets for the World Cup have been sold four months before soccer's biggest event kicks off in South Africa. FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke said only 2.1 million tickets have been sold for the tournament, which has a capacity of 2.9 million.

The biggest problem has been with "hospitality" programs, where ticketing agencies make the bulk of their profits by selling spots in luxury booths at significantly higher prices.

Valcke also said South Africa would not get 450,000 visitors as it had predicted. He said the number could be as low as 350,000, but he didn't have a precise estimate.

Valcke said FIFA has worked hard to make the World Cup more accessible, world soccer's governing body negotiated lower plane tickets with some airlines, bringing the price of a round-trip flight from New York to Johannesburg down to $2,000 during the World Cup from a normal charge of $3,000.

To prevent empty seats stadiums, seats once designated for traveling Europeans, Americans and other soccer supporters are being switched to a lower-price category for South Africans. This will hurt profits but will also help realize FIFA's goal of ensuring that at least a fifth of spectators at the tournament will be locals.

Valcke promised that the World Cup would be safe at all venues, and security will be provided by host country and FIFA.

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