Bafana fans not buying tickets
Johannesburg - Less that 100 000 tickets have been sold for fans in the six African countries competing in the 2010 World Cup finals that kicks off on June 11 at the new Soccer City Stadium.
That was the sobering disclosure from the chief executive officer of the 2010 Local Organising Committee, Danny Jordaan, at a media briefing held at SAFA House, south of Johannesburg on Tuesday.
But what has Jordaan worried is the fact few local fans are buying tickets for Bafana Bafana's Group A matches.
Bafana open the tournament at Soccer City against Mexico on June 11, then play Uruguay at Loftus on June 16 and finish their group programme against 1998 world champions France in Bloemfontein on June 22.
The opening match and ceremony is expected to be sold out, but not by Bafana fans.
The two top teams in the group qualify for the second round.
Said Jordaan: "This will be the first time in World Cup history that the host nation are not topping the ticket sales list.
"Sadly Bafana are not even in the top 10. England at this stage will have more supporters at their country's games than will be at Bafana matches.
"It will be tragic if this trend continues and I appeal to local fans to come out and support their country."
Bafana players and the South African Football Association must shoulder some of the blame for the fans apathy.
Bafana, who in 1996 won the African Nations Cup and were ranked in the top 20 in the world in that year, have slipped to 85th in the world rankings and are the lowest ranked team in the World Cup.
Bafana have won one (against minnows Madagascar) and drawn two of their last 11 matches.
SAFA finally got rid of Brazilian born coach Joel Santana last October after a run of disastrous defeats and re-hired fellow Brazilian Carlos Alberto Parreira, in a bid to stop Bafana's poor run of form under Santana.
But Parreira, who won the 1994 World Cup with Brazil, has been on holiday in his home country since early December and is only expected to arrive in Johannesburg on Wednesday to take charge of a two week camp for local based Bafana players in Durban, starting on Friday.
Parreira has watched few - if any - PSL matches during the hectic three mach per week schedule in December in order for the PSL to complete the Absa Premiership by February 28 to give Parreira more time to work with his players.
Said Jordaan: "We want this World Cup to be an African World Cup and yet so far all the African teams involved are not coming to the party."
Jordaan said he would be going to Angola soon in order to speak with the officials of Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Algeria.
All five are competing in the African Nations Cup finals in that country. Of the African teams competitng in the 2010 World Cup only Bafana failed to qualify for the African Nations Cup finals under Santana.
"I will be meeting with top officials from the five African teams that will be competing at the World Cup here in June in a bid to stress the fact they need to boost sales and bring their supporters here
"But the biggest concern at this stage is South African fans are not buying tickets for Bafana matches.
"The sales locally are good for other countries, but not Bafana matches and that is something we have to address urgently."
Of the 3.1 million tickets available, over a million have been sold. The current selling phase ends on January 22 after which the LOC will assess the sales.
Jordaan added he was confident sales will continue to raise worldwide in the next selling phase as the tournament kick-off nears.
"Apart from Africa, we are happy with the global sales and expect this trend to increase in the coming months," Jordaan added.