Chan in chaos

2014-01-12 10:00

Embarrassed tournament organisers admit they dropped the ball.

The African Nations Championship (Chan), which started yesterday, is in shambles!

Don’t be surprised if you see rows and rows of empty seats during the games, particularly in Bloemfontein and Polokwane.

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula’s no-show at a press conference in Cape Town on Friday and a faulty laminating machine at the accreditation centre were just two things that further shamed the Chan Local Organising Committee.

The faulty machine meant that some journalists had to return to the centre yesterday and join the back of the queue.

Other scribes were angry that despite receiving letters of approval a while ago, their names were not on the list of journalists accredited to cover the tournament.

To add insult to injury, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) decided to hold its annual awards event in Nigeria on Thursday, which meant that while the organisation’s bigwigs, including president Issa Hayatou, were being feted in Lagos, South Africans were left to run around making the final arrangements on their own.

It also meant that South Africa had to welcome the 15 visiting nations without the presence of CAF’s top brass.

But the most embarrassing concern is that the slow rate of ticket sales means the target has not been reached, leaving the chief executive officer of the organising committee, Mvuzo Mbebe, red-faced.

Mbebe spent a lot of time focusing on selling tickets for the games that do not feature Bafana Bafana.

He has conceded that organising the tournament was challenging and he was honest in his assessment of the situation, saying there were areas where he felt they could have done better.

“We are operating at 30% of the budget we had for last year’s Africa Cup of Nations [Afcon] and you can imagine what a small fraction that is. Last year, CAF had nine sponsors and now we only have three and it’s not easy for us,” said Mbebe.

“For Afcon, the government gave us R87?million and we have only R36?million for Chan.”

He admitted that they could have done a little better when it came to marketing.

“With all things said and done, I think we could have done better.

We could have upped the ante immediately after December 16. The only area where we should have pushed harder is marketing, but our resources were very limited even though we were organising for the same number of teams as in Afcon.

“We have done everything possible on our part, although there have been hiccups here and there.”

Mbebe said the death of former president Nelson Mandela on December 5 affected the launch of their marketing campaign because they had to put everything on hold.

“When we were about to launch our campaign, Madiba passed away and it would have been insensitive of us to have gone on the marketing offensive at that time. By the time the period of mourning ended, everybody had closed for the year.”

Although he pointed out that he did not want to use it as an excuse, Mbebe said that the uncertainty about who would be included in Bafana Bafana for the tournament also had an affect on ticket sales.

“The reality is that people took into account what was happening before the Bafana squad was announced,” he said.

“There was that wait-and-see approach, and that had an effect on ticket sales. It was a sideshow that dominated the news for a long time.”

He said he was hoping for a good run by Bafana and hoped that would improve ticket sales.

“In any country, the performance of the national team defines the tournament. If people look at the opening ceremony and Bafana’s performance and say ‘wow!’ then they will go get tickets and flock to the stadiums.”

He said he did not believe that people thought that Chan was an unimportant tournament.

“I don’t want to believe that we are so myopic that we will only support football on the basis of ‘I know player X’.”

He said the committee was banking on supporters of countries including Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique to boost ticket sales.

Disappointing Chan numbers


– Number of tickets available


– Number of tickets distributed by Friday


– 2013 Africa Cup of Nations budget

R80-R90 million

– 2014 Chan budget

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