South Africa’s football organisers are being put under pressure to generate more public enthusiasm for the Confederations Cup tournament, a spokesman for FIFA said here on Tuesday.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter on Monday criticised organisers of the Confed Cup for not doing enough to fill stadiums.
His comments came after the second match of the tournament of continental champions, featuring the world’s number one team Spain against New Zealand, which was played in front of a half-empty stadium in Rustenburg.
“We are really focused on working with our colleagues in the LOC (local organising committee) to invite people to go out and buy tickets and follow this tournament, which is a major competition in the footballing calendar,” FIFA spokesman Nicolas Maingot told AFP.
“For the first time in the history of the Confederations Cup, you have three teams participating which are in the top five of the FIFA rankings (Brazil, Italy and Spain): we can only urge people to go and buy tickets and support this tournament,” he added.
However, Maingot refused to confirm reports that free tickets might be distributed to fill the grounds. “Concrete measures will not be communicated at this stage,” he said.
Blatter held a meeting with organisers Monday to address the issue. FIFA had previously said it was confident it would witness sell-out stadiums at an event that is the traditional dress rehearsal for the World Cup.
There has been criticism of the lack of advertising of the Confederations Cup within the country, as well as dissatisfaction with the ticketing policy which is not suited to the pockets of South African soccer fans. The average match ticket costs 70 Rand (six euros, nine dollars) in a country where 43 percent of the population lives on two dollars a day.
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