Forget about buying a ticket online from Fifa

2009-04-10 00:00

LIKE any patriotic South African, he wants all these major sporting events to be a success for the country and so, motivated by the excellent TV commercials featuring Graeme Smith and Makhaya Ntini, he decides to buy a ticket to watch a match during the imminent Fifa Confederations Cup.

World champions Italy and Bafana Bafana join the six current Confederation champions — Spain, Iraq, U.S.A., Egypt, New Zealand and Brazil — in a two-week tournament (June 14 to 28) being played at four venues: Ellis Park, Loftus Versfeld, Free State Stadium and the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace.

SA’s obligation as hosts is simple: fill the stadiums, create an atmosphere. So far, with 67 days remaining until the opening match, barely 200 000 of the total 646 000 tickets have been sold.

Now is the hour for all good people to find a few rand and buy tickets for the volk en land.

So, he resolves, he will do his bit. How does he buy a Confederations Cup ticket? The advertisements tell him to visit www.fifa.com. So he gets online, calls up the homepage and spots, at the bottom of the page, the sailboat-style logo for the FCC and clicks on the underlined “ticketing” link.

Now the work begins, and he reads: “Do you already have a Fifa.com account?” What? He doesn’t want an account, he just wants a ticket. With a weary sigh, he realises he won’t get a ticket without getting an account, so he clicks on “To create your own Fifa.com account, click here!”.

First name? Last name? E-mail address? Date of birth? Gender? Screen name? Password? Repeat password, just to check the spelling is consistent? This is starting to feel like a social networking site, but he doesn’t want to join a social networking site. He just wants to buy a ticket to a football match.

Eventually, he is told an e-mail will be sent to his address, and this will enable him to activate the account. This arrives promptly, welcoming him to “the world’s fastest-growing online football club”. He clicks the link, and a new page forms on his computer screen, formally welcoming him to “The Club!”.

There are now more questions to be answered. List your three favourite national teams. List your three favourite national leagues. There are seven boxes to be ticked: Yes, I want the Fifa newsletter; Yes, I want to receive e-mail alerts; Yes, I want the Fifa world league’s newsletter; Yes, I want McDonalds Fifa World Cup Fantasy newsletter; Yes, I would like to receive McDonalds alerts; Yes, I would like to receive the McDonalds World Cup predictor newsletter; Yes, I want the Fifa World Cup trivia newsletter.

Starting to feel a little “ticked off”, he confirms he is an SA resident and gets back to the same ticketing page he first saw when he was somewhat younger. Now, he sees a table offering four ticket categories for each of the 16 matches. Three squares are coloured red for “sold out” (Cat 4 tickets for Spain-SA, and Cat 2 and Cat 4 for the Ellis Park semi-final). Six squares are orange for “currently not available”: all four categories for the glamour game between Italy and Brazil and Cat 4 for Bafana-Iraq and Brazil-USA.

Two other squares are yellow indicating “few tickets left” (Cat 3 for the opening match and Cat 4 for Egypt-Italy), and 51 squares remain green for “Available”.

He clicks on a Cat 4 ticket for the match between Iraq and New Zealand at Ellis Park on June 20, determined to play his part in ensuring there are no embarrassingly empty stands, and is informed that, for R70, he has been allocated Seat 210 in Row X of Block 37. Next, he fills out his nationality, passport number, date of birth (again), telephone number and credit card details and assumes he has secured his match ticket.

No. The bank requires him to verify his credit card payment. He must create another username and another password and… nothing. It doesn’t work. He tries again. Still doesn’t work. The page just renews. He’s had enough. Patriotism temporarily exhausted, he concedes defeat and closes down the website. Has it ever been so hard to buy a match ticket?

•Edward Griffiths is a journalist, author, former CEO of SA Rugby and general manager of SABC sport and has been involved in various SA bid campaigns.

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