There were fears before the World Cup and now it is becoming a reality. Attendances at some of the games have been lower than expected and the blame is being firmly laid at the doorsteps of corporate, foreign and government ticket holders.
FIFA is said to be pleased with the overall attendances, which are slightly higher than at the same stage in Germany in 2006. But some of the figures are being disputed as games that have been declared sell outs, just 4 of the 11 so far, despite empty seats and boxes clearly visible to those attending.
“We have made some group sales to large organisations and companies, but some ticket holders have not come. We are not talking about unsold tickets, we are talking about sold tickets which have not been occupied,” said a FIFA spokesman.
“What we have realised in our investigations is that some ticket holders, including international ticket holders, have not turned up. We clearly recognise this [the empty seats] but you have to recognise the bigger picture. It’s not nice to see empty seats in a stadium but the attendances are good.”
Sales of general tickets have been hampered by a lack of internet access amongst locals and a lack of football culture amongst the more affluent white population but the global recession has also had an impact on the sale of corporate hospitality packages, which have been a great source of income for host countries in the past.
Leading international corporate hospitality provider PROSKE group’s head of sports, Andreja Wieser, says: “Without doubt the economic down-turn has had an impact on the sale of hospitality seats reserved for corporations and sponsors at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. The result of this will be that more unsold tickets will go back onto the open market. In such cases, the demand for lower end hospitality will be higher.
“The economic downturn has affected people´s perception of hospitality. Corporations and sponsors have become more cautious about buying hospitality packages, programmes or tickets. At the same time, people´s perceptions on whether to accept hospitality invitations or not has changed, too. The last thing that people want to see in times of downturns is spending unnecessary money. Corporate decision makers look harder to see whether the use of hospitality is justifiable and ensure that there is no over-indulgence. In times of recession, companies want to ensure that high costs for large events are a secure investment.”
But Wieser believes that corporate hospitality still has a value at international sports competitions.
She added: “Hospitality at major sporting events is still used as a popular marketing tool for global corporations. Major sports events such as the upcoming 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, may continue counting on their unbowed popularity and remain an attractive platform for sponsors due to its high popularity. Sporting events have always been popular choices for corporate hospitality and can bring long term benefits. Face to face corporate hospitality is vital in developing and sustaining business relations. It is the sustainability that matters and makes the difference.”
We shall see if the situation improves as we move into the knock-out stages later in the month but for now the site of empty boxes and seats is going to be here to stay.
Would love to hear from you in you are one of the ‘stay away’ fans who have bought tickets but not made the journey or if you have a view on the situation….