March 25, 2010

Are you interested in (World) cup size upgrade?

So, what happens when you're hosting the World Cup in three months and you've yet to sell out the tickets for all of the matches?

Even worse, you're not just a few short, but more like 650,000 short.  With 2.95 million tickets available, that's 22% of tickets for the World Cup unsold - just four short years after Germany received almost 5 times as many ticket requests as seats (15 million applications :: 3.4 million seats).

Built on top of a former gold mine, will Johannesburg's Soccer City 
Stadium be a quarter empty come June?

Even (more?) worse, of the 570,000 total tickets you allocated to countries playing in the World Cup, almost 330,000 are still unsold; so, about 58% of the people you invited to your party have opted to stay at home and watch in 3-D rather than brave adverse conditions in South Africa like unfinished roads, insufficient electricity for stadiums, taxi driver protests, and elevated levels of violent crime.  Of course, if these stay-cationers really wanted to make the trip to South Africa, they could have figured something out - like, say, hire Canadian bodyguards.

No, they're not that kind of Canadian bodyguards.

Let me just reiterate that this kind of thing is completely unprecedented for a World Cup and so, the question remains, what are you to do?  The first thing?  Don't panic.  And South African government officials are holding firm.  Gauteng (the country's most populous province and home to 3 World Cup Stadiums) Premier Nomvula Mokonyane has insisted that the country is ready:
"In spite of negative reports emanating from known and unknown sources hell-bent on besmirching the image of our country.  I am confident that South Africa is ready to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup....We are a country that is intolerant of crime, a country that is prepared to make sure that this World Cup becomes a legacy.  Believe us, we have gone an extra mile compared to other countries that have hosted."
Men on horseback patrol outside the Cape Town Stadium as part of
a security test on Monday.  Comforted yet?

The second?  Get creative. According to the Wall Street Journal, while government officials are looking to up the visitor turnout to South Africa by trying to rein in backpacker groups and Christian evangelists who would be "eager to speak to large crowds of soccer fans," some local businesses are coming up with their own ideas.

One solution from a cosmetic surgery center in Cape Town: offer breast enhancement packages complete with accommodations and transportation to World Cup matches.  Surgical Bliss in Cape Town, which is known for their medical tourism, takes pride in combining plastic surgery visits with "amazing holiday opportunities" that the area offers.  According to Times of India, the World Cup package is designed to entice more female fans to tournament and, in total, costs about $9000.

Over 130,000 American fans have already bought tickets for the World Cup - second only to the host nation South Africa.  No word yet on whether the intriguing offer from Surgical Bliss will help boost - among other things - that number.

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