Over One Million World Cup Tickets Unsold

Official 2010 FIFA World Cup match ball
Image by mikkelz via Flickr

The South African World Cup organisers have announced that in excess of One Million tickets (some estimates are as high as 1.2 Million) for the 2010 tournament went unsold, largely thanks to the returns by sponsors and VIP supporters. Given there were only 2.9 million tickets in total this is a shocking result. FIFA again in their wisdom are refusing to comment on the number, but anyone who watched the games on TV will have seen the masses of empty seats. This is a terrible waste of potential revenue and must be galling for many genuine football fans who were either priced out of the games or couldn’t get a ticket when they applied. Fortunately FIFA have decided to change their ticket allocation structure for the 2014 final in Brazil which will hopefully avoid a similar farce.

Amongst the worst culprits were the sponsors who included Addidas who not content with inflicting their awful Jabulani on us also contributed to the 360,000 sponsor tickets returned. Not a stunning indictment of their enthusiasm for watching games played with their supposed wonder ball.

Other culprits included Manchester based Match Hospitality with 240,000 returns and official tour operators who only managed 144,000 sales from 344,000 ordered.

Possibly most surprising was the poor take up by the 31 non host competing countries who would have been expected to snap up their allocations.  Here the figures were an almost unbelievable 31% take up leaving 384,000 unsold.

On this score at least the 2010 South African World Cup will not go down in history as the success it is currently being portrayed as and although at this stage it should’t be a future impediment to playing the finals in poorer nations, a similar flop in Brazil will be cause for serious debate.

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World Cup 2010 Epilogue

Man blowing a vuvuzela, Cape Town, South Africa
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The 2010 World Cup ended with victory for Spain who admittedly made very heavy weather of it losing their opener to the Swiss and hardly impressing in their other matches. However despite this lack of flair they were the best team in the tournament and it will go down as a victory for football. Holland who will feel slightly aggrieved due to the extra time refereeing decisions changed their tactics for the final and had they won it would not have been because they had played the “beautiful game”. They are being criticised for their aggressive play, but anyone who grew up in the 1970s will if looking back realise the majority of the fouls they committed would never have attracted a yellow card and in many occasions the ref probably wouldn’t have even blown his whistle.

With all the rule changes it looks increasingly like FIFA would like football to become a non contact sport which will take away much of its attraction. You have to feel some sympathy for Howard Webb who had little choice but to award a record number of cards, although this might in turn mean he is remembered as a card happy final ref rather than the one whose dodgy decisions led to the winning goal. At least Howard Webb’s performance will give the conspiracy theorists supporting former FA chairman Lord Triesman’s something to talk about. For the benefit of those who have forgotten this brief piece of headline news Lord Triesman was sacked for suggesting that Spain would win the World Cup aided by Referees bribed by Russia, who would then get Spain’s support for their 2018 World Cup bid.

Despite the poor final the tournament is widely regarded as having been a success and although it didn’t bring forth the emergence of Africa as a major international force it did have more positives than negatives and produced a few surprises.


South Africa as hosts. The whole country threw themselves behind the tournament adding an element of colour and excitement which really added to the event. Even the much maligned vuvuzela added to the atmosphere. The stadiums were all pretty good considering South Africa is still a developing nation and the much feared violence against the visiting spectators never materialised.  Overall a great result for a country working hard to make up for its past.

The general competitiveness of the Groups. Despite the careful seeding FIFA employ the groups proved to be exciting and in many cases qualification was only decided in the final games. This kept the interest going and helped produce some nice surprises.

The rise of the Asian teams.  Although most neutral fans would have been hoping for a good showing from the African nations, it was instead Asia who seem to be the most likely to overhaul the South American & European Domination of International football. Japan and South Korea both had impressive tournaments and even the lesser lights Australia and North Korea gave us some moments to enjoy. With the Far East fast becoming the World’s economic power house ensuring football is strong there will be good for the game going forward.

The Refereeing. Overall this was generally good although there were several bad mistakes, which in many cases influenced the outcome of the game. The positive which might come out of this is that FIFA will re evaluate the use of technology. With so much hanging on a decision it is no longer acceptable for football to be one of the few sports not to adopt technological help where available

The 3rd – 4th place play off match which eclipsed the final. This is supposed to be the game no team wants to win, however someone forgot to tell Uruguay and Germany this, as they served up probably the best match of the tournament.

The not so positives

The Adidas Jabulani ball. Whatever the makers say this ball was poor and no doubt contributed to the abundance of misplaced passes and the poor long range shooting. Hopefully this ball will be resigned to the annuls of history never to be seen again.

Disappointing performances by the pre tournament stars. Players like Wayne Rooney, Torres, Eto’o, Kaka & Ronaldo were expected to light up the pitch at the finals, however they were mere a shadow of the player who graced their respective domestic leagues and the Champions League.  Ok Torres was injured but overall the star names failed to shine big time. It was left to the likes of Forlan,  Ozil,  Muller & Gyan to give the neutrals something to shout about. The whole French team awful too, but at least gave us something to laugh about with their petulant antics.

The Surprises

The main surprise of the tournament was France and Italy bowing out with a whimper having both contested the 2006 final. Italy were a trifle unlucky, but France were just Abysmal. More pleasant surprises were the superb performances by Uruguay, and a young German team with both reaching the semi finals. Germany look like being a major threat in the 2012 European Championships. Other pleasant surprises included the battling performances by New Zealand, forecast as whipping boys pre tournament but ended up the only unbeaten side, and of course North Korea’s fantastic efforts against Brazil in their opener.

Overall a great few weeks of entertainment with probably the best team winning the trophy, and a few great matches to remember. The World Cup remains the ultimate football competition and the good news is there’s only 3 years and about 11 months to go till the next one ,which will be held in Brazil. Better start saving now.

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Recognition for Diego Forlan’s World Cup Contributions

Leônidas da Silva and Arthur Friedenreich, Bra...
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Very few people will argue with FIFA awarding Diego Forlan the Golden Ball award for best player at the 2010 World Cup Finals. He was instrumental in Uruguay’s run to the semi finals, and with 5 goals he finished joint top scorer. He is only the third winner not to have appeared in the final joining Brazil’s Leônidas da Silva (right) from 1938 and Italy’s Salvatore (Toto) Schillaci from 1990 in this select group.

The other awards were:

Golden Boot – Thomas Muller Germany

Golden Glove – Iker Casillas Spain

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Howard Webb Wins World Cup For Spain

English football (soccer) referee Howard Webb
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Sadly a rather disappointing World Cup Final will be largely  remembered for the controversial refereeing decisions by Howard Webb, which ultimately led to Spain winning late in extra time.

12 yellow cards and a red largely tells the story of a scrappy match with petty fouls and a packed midfield stifling any hope of free flowing football. Holland probably had the slightly better chances but the only real talking point of the game was the strange decisions by Howard Webb deep into extra time when he first missed a clear corner for Holland he must have been the only person in the stadium who thought it was a goal kick. If that wasn’t bad enough and a few second latter Holland should have had a free kick which he again ignored allowing Spain to counter attack and from this Iniesta scored the winning goal. What had been an otherwise good performance by him was marred by these two ludicrous decisions, which will follow him for the rest of his career.

Still overall Spain were probably the better team and they have now added the World Cup to their 2008 European Championship win making them clearly the most successful international team of the 21st Century so far.

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Germany’s Reserves Edge Out Uruguay For 3rd Place

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Germany made 5 changes for this match compared to the team which played the semi final, but were still too good for a plucky Uruguay.

This was one of the more entertaining games in the tournament and with little to play for both sides opened up and treated the fans to some nice end to end football.

Germany opened the scoring on 18 minutes when the Uruguay keeper Muslera, who was not to have a great game spilled a long range shot, and Muller was the first to react stabbing the ball home. However this lead only lasted 10 minutes thanks to some nice Uruguay football starting with a great tackle on Schweinsteiger and ending with Cavani calmly slotting the ball into the net thanks to a lovely Forlan pass. Uruguay were now firmly back in the match and going into half time it looked like they could fancy their chances.

The second half which was played in heavy rain continued in the same vein and it was no surprise when possibly the player of the tournament Diego Forlan put the South Americans 2-1 up with a well taken volley. This put him level in the Golden Boot competition and with assists possibly counting in the event of a tie he could be in with a chance.

Victory would have been sweet for Uruguay who because of their early success are often thought of as a bigger team than they really are, but alas for them it was not to be and two bits of bad defending cost them dear as Germany took the third place medal for a second consecutive World Cup.

Germany’s final two goals came from Jansen in the 56th minute, when he headed in following a hopeless flap at the ball by Muslera and Khedira who pounced on some defensive hesitancy in the 82nd minute.

As per usual Uruguay refused to give up and with the last kick of the game Diego Forlan hit the crossbar from a free kick.

It has been a great World Cup Finals for both teams and Uruguay Manager Oscar Tabarez’s and his team can look forward to a heros welcome when they return to Montevideo while the German Coach Joachim Loew who was much maligned pre-tournament will probably be able to write his own salary cheque when renegotiating his contract

World Cup 3rd Place Playoff Final Score

Germany 3-2 Uruguay

Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Attendance: 36,007

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Holland Edge Past Uruguay To Reach World Cup Final


Holland v Uruguay World Cup Semi Final Preview

Diego Forlán
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The first of the World Cup Semi Finals Pitts the last remaining South American side Uruguay against the Dutch who sneaked into the quarter finals somewhat under the radar before announcing their intentions in no uncertain way with a battling win against Brazil. On paper this looks quite a one sided tie, but the beauty of these one off games is that anything can and often does happen.

Uruguay came into the finals largely written off being stuck in a fairly tough group with France, Mexico and the hosts South Africa. The only really recognisable member of the squad was Diego Forlan and although he has been a revelation in Spanish football he was best remembered by many as a Manchester United reject. Thus the expectations for them was an early trip home. However France decided to self destruct and Uruguay defied the critics with some nice compact defensive football capped off with great attacking flair from Mr Forlan and the hitherto little known Luis Suarez, who is suspended for this game.

To be fair Uruguay have had a pretty easy ride to the Semis beating South Korea and Ghana but they could only beat who is put in front of them so they remain something of an unknown quantity.

Holland who still have a 100% record in the 2010 competition, including winning all their qualifying matches have had things much tougher having to overcome a better than expected Slovakia side and then fighting back to beat then tournament favourites Brazil. On all form they should be good enough top win this match and probably the final too. However they will be without Nigel De Jong who although somewhat unsung has been a key part of their success.

Still despite this it will be a major surprise if Holland dont progress to their first final since 1978 where they will be hoping its third time lucky.

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World Cup 2010 Semi Final Germany v Spain

MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 14: The Spanish natio...
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This will be the most anticipated match of the tournament with the devastating counter attacking of the Germans coming up against the stylish passind and ball control of the Spanish. It goes without saying that whoever grabs the first goal in a game like this will have a huge advantage and this could either lead to a cautious start or a German Blitzkrieg like their opening against Argentina.

Germany have been one of the surprises of the tournament, largely written off by most pundits as being too young and lacking any big star names. this is possibly true as if you put a transfer value on the German starting line up they would cost a fraction of what the Spanish team would command, and they would even be valued below the teams they have already soundly beaten in the second stages, namely England & Argentina. But as has been shown so often in the past it is the “better team” who wins rather than the better collection of individual players and in this respect Germany are one of the best this World Cup. If Germany do have a weakness it is in the centre of their defense and this could be a worry against a neat passing team like Spain.

Spain by comparison have a team stuffed with household names and in David Villa they probably have the player of the tournament. The rest of the squad is strong too and they seem to be able to retain possession even when they are being pressurised as shown in their surprisingly tough match against Paraguay. They will be at full strength for the game unlike Germany who will be without Thomas Muller due to suspension.

Spain have never reached a World Cup Semi Final before (their 4th place in 1950 was the result of finishing botom of the final group) while Germany and regular last four competitors, however this should count for nothing as this Spain side are full of confidence following their 2008 European Championships win when they beat Germany in the final.

Overall this is going to be a close game and although Germany will make things tough for spain I just feel that finally this exciting Germany team will sucumb. Thus the prediction is for Spain to advance to the final by the odd goal possibly in extra time.

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Holland v Brazil Preview

2010 FIFA World Cup
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All of a sudden the Quarter Finals of the 2010 World Cup are upon us and the first of the four ties looks likely to produce a finalist at least and probably the eventual winner.

Brazil have looked very impressive in the tournament, coming through a tricky group with the minimum of fuss and then dispatching a talented Chile squad with similar ease. This form looks by far the best in the competition so far and they are justifiably favorites to lift their 6th title adding to successes in 1958,1962,1970,1994 & 2002.

Holland remain an enigma, they have a 100% record but have not looked overly impressive. However it could be argued that they were content to do just enough and were saving themselves for the bigger games ahead. At their best Holland have shown they are a match for Brazil only losing on penalties in their 1998 World Cup meeting, and in Robben & Sneijder they have players capable of winning the game. They go into the game with no injury worries, unlike Brazil who will miss Elano, Baptista & Melo with injuries, while Ramires is suspended. Even a team as strong as Brazil will struggle to cope with players of that quality missing.

So this one could be a lot closer than many think and sadly probably wont be the display of flowing football the neutral fans will be hoping for. If the Dutch can up their game they have a great chance of beating what will be a slightly under strength Brazil and with that momentum they should sweep through to the final. If Brazil can win this with four key players missing then those left in the competition will be in such awe that Brazil should take the tournament.

So who will win this pivotal game? If pushed for a prediction I would have to go with Holland to win by the odd goal probably in extra time. Whoever progresses it should be an intriguing encounter.

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Paraguay v Japan Preview

History doesn’t favour a Japan win today and in the 12 previous Asia v South America World Cup Finals meetings only North Korea in 1966 and South Korea in 1994 have avoided defeat, both managing draws.

Japan are one of the surprises of the tournament having come through a fairly tough group thanks to wins over Cameroon and Denmark. However neither of these opponents looked anywhere like their best and it is hard to gague what Japan are capable of. Paraguay on the other hand have looked good in qualifying and although you can point to Italy’s below par performance in the finals it would be harsh to take too much away from the South Americans who have played neat, compact football. They brushed Slovakia aside with considerable ease and although they only drew with New Zealand they new what they needed that day and duly got it.

A repeat of their Slovakia performance should see them ease into the last eight for the 1st time in the countries history.

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