Confed Cup cover-up hides distorted sales

It might aptly be described as "The Great Cover-Up" after more than six weeks of futile attempts to secure from Fifa and the Local Organising Committee a concise breakdown of specific ticket requests for the 16 Confederations Cup matches.

It might aptly be described as "The Great Cover-Up" after more than six weeks of futile attempts to secure from Fifa and the Local Organising Committee a concise breakdown of specific ticket requests for the 16 Confederations Cup matches.

Behind the deafening silence, it would seem, is a grossly distorted demand for tickets for the June tournament, with inviting matches like those between Brazil and Italy either already sold out or coming close to it, but only a man and his dog seemingly interested in seats for games featuring teams like Iraq, New Zealand and the United States.

So, while the LOC has blithely announced there have been 300000 requests for the overall 600000 tickets that have gone on sale for the Confederations Cup, the figure is misleading because the number of requests for the Brazil-Italy game, for example, are believed to be almost double the capacity of Loftus Versfeld where this major crowd puller will be staged.

In view of the blase attitude of South African soccer fans to show any interest in the less attractive Confederations Cup fixtures, the LOC is now desperately twisting the arm of the corporate world and government departments to purchase tickets in what is described as an SOS operation.

The initiative has already met with success with banking group Investec coming to the bizarre party by purchasing 50 000 tickets for about R35million - in the process swelling the overall ticket requests to an artificial 300000.

The bulk of the tickets purchased by Investec are believed to be for games featuring the lesser lights in the Confederations Cup, thereby avoiding the embarrassment of games in the 2010 World Cup precursor being staged in empty stadiums.

The LOC and Fifa are confident the exercise will have its desired effect, but what it will mean is a large percentage of Confederations Cup tickets will go to fans free of charge - and might not actually be used on match day in any case.

In the meantime, the silence on individual game ticket requests remains deafening. - Sapa

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