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Final push for 2010 sales

There 500 000 unsold World Cup tickets to date.

This week, over 200 000 cellphone users received SMSes from Fifa promoting World Cup ticket sales, a few days before the final sales phase. It seems local demand is high, as South Africans queued overnight at Fifa ticket centres, which opened across the country this morning.

The Fifa media team said earlier this week that there were still 500 000 unsold World Cup tickets, which include 300 to the final match, although Fifa had previously said the final game was sold out.

Fifa says it agreed to drop a ruling that tickets could only be bought online or through a ballot, and they will now be on sale over the counter at ticket centres, in shopping malls, and at some popular supermarkets.

This makes it much easier for the many South Africans without Internet access or credit cards. It will be the first time fans can buy tickets over the counter.

According to the Fifa media team, only 2.2 million out of the 2.95 million available tickets have been sold, with two-thirds of these tickets being bought by South African residents. A total of 240 000 tickets were sold in the fourth phase, 85% of which went to locals. Sales desperately need a boost, as this is the only modern World Cup that has not sold out at this stage, says Fifa.

The organisation says it sent 220 000 SMSes this week, in the second mass SMS campaign aiming to boost ticket sales. According to Fifa, direct marketing via cellular and online platforms is recognised as an effective and common form of advertising “and is an important pillar of our marketing strategy as it allows for one-on-one contact with a specific target market”.

Thousands of local soccer-lovers queued to buy tickets today. Photo by: Nicola Mawson

Fifa denies 'resorting' to this form of advertising out of panic, and believes it to be a worthwhile communication tool.

The organisation says it purchased the SMS database from a digital service provider that has a legitimate database of consumers who have given permission to receive communications. “The SMSes are thus not unsolicited, but at some point these persons have given their permission,” Fifa explained.

It also pointed out that recipients have the option of cancelling this permission by opting out. Their names are then removed from future correspondence.

Last chance

Last week Friday, the official 2010 Fifa World Cup ticket was unveiled by Fifa secretary-general Jérôme Valcke and Local Organising Committee CEO Danny Jordaan, at Maponya Mall in Soweto.

The tickets will be available to the general public from today (15 April) until the last day of the tournament on 11 July, in the fifth and final ticketing sales phase.

“For this last phase, we have made a big effort to assist football fans by introducing various additional means to purchase a ticket,” emphasises Valcke. “We are committed to facilitating the process for all fans and giving them this last chance to attend the matches and experience the excitement of this first World Cup in Africa.”

Jordaan stresses that phase five is intended to make buying a ticket as easy as possible for every South African football fan. “We have always said it is important that we make this World Cup more accessible to the people,” he noted, adding that over-the-counter sales are the best way to ensure maximum access.

Free visas for fans

In other efforts to encourage fans to buy tickets, government decided yesterday that soccer fans who have tickets to the World Cup and need a visa to visit SA will be able to obtain them for free on entering the country. The Department of Home Affairs says fans from Mexico and Nigeria would probably make the most use of the special free visa.

According to home affairs minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, “Special queue lanes would also be set up for fans visiting the country during the World Cup, to ensure fast processing.” She adds that the department, working with the South African Revenue Service, is putting in place a system for entry points in the country.

The system is already in place at OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg and the plan is to deploy it at other entry points.

She said the department has negotiated agreements with certain airlines which could assist with pre-processing of passengers before they arrived in SA for the World Cup.

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