One world, one game... but where are the fans?

World Cup 2010

When Slovakia ran out for their first ever World Cup match at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenberg, they probably didn't imagine making their finals debut in front of thousands of empty seats.
One world, one game... but where are the fans?

But while small bands of Slovakian and New Zealand supporters made the long trip from their respective homelands to watch the Group F encounter in person, the match appears to have held little cachet for local supporters.

In a tournament dogged by headlines about crime and the noise of South Africa's ubiquitous vuvezelas, FIFA now have a new headache to contend with - the sight of empty seats at many of the early group-stage encounters.

The suits in the Swiss corridors of power may be part of a well oiled marketing machine, but no amount of spin doctoring can hide the fact that the unoccupied seats represent a public relations disaster.

Thousands of ticket-holders failed to turn out for games involving Asian sides South Korea and Japan, with FIFA blaming the no-shows on the high percentage of corporate clients who have failed to find their way into the grounds.

Yet local supporters remain locked out by high ticket prices, while transport chaos continues to plague a tournament hosted by a nation still struggling for basic infrastructure.

Millions of dollars have been poured into updating South African stadia, but the funds appear to have been wasted with so many of the games attracting crowds well short of capacity.

It's just another headache for FIFA organisers already struggling to deal with those caused by ear-splitting plastic horns, with the opening round of matches more memorable for the swathes of empty seats on display, rather than any of the football on the pitch.

Copyright © Mike Tuckerman &


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