Aussie soccer fans who have contented
themselves with watching the World Cup from their living rooms or the local pub
rather than the stands at Germany’s
football stadiums may want to stop reading here.

Late last year, the allocation of Australia’s
piddling number of tickets had fans outraged. The controversial ballot left
many people confused, angry, and asking why they had missed out. “I sent my
application in at one second past 9am. How could I possibly have
missed out?” was a familiar cry.

Many presumably saw their dreams of
attending the World Cup disappear with their chance at getting seats. Well, if
the game at Kaiserslautern was any indication, the ballot was but one means of grabbing a
seat, and probably the least reliable.

From where I was sitting, I could see
hundreds, possibly thousands of empty seats, while out the front of the
stadium, spruikers were selling tickets at close to retail prices. The news would be
especially maddening for those who paid inflated prices
through eBay etc over past few weeks. Tickets for Aus-Japan were routinely
going for more than AUD$1,000, yet good tickets were available outside the
ground for 125 euros (face value of 100 euros).

What’s
more, the ground announcers seem to want everyone to think that every game was
sellout! I wonder if the same blokes employed to do the crowd numbers at the
Telstra Dome won the contract to count heads in Germany.

Maybe
it’s too embarrassing for FIFA to admit that the Biggest Sporting Event The
World Knows is being poorly attended. Maybe an admission of poor tickets sales
would lead to hard questions about the global ticket allocation process. Or are
people lucky enough to have tickets just being lazy? Given
the time and energy thousands of Australian fans put into NOT getting a ticket,
it was infuriating to see so many seats go to waste.

There is an upside to all of this, of
course. There’s
still enough time to get on a plane for the Brazil and Croatia games.

Peter Fray

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