Thursday, March 26, 2009

Success on the Field, But African Demand for the Game Has Some Worried

As African nations enter the climactic stage of World Cup qualifying, the sport is experiencing an unprecedented success on the continent. African players are increasingly among the world's top players, earning some of the highest salaries. Investment in the African Champions League is also at an all-time high. But while the sport is benefiting, ticket sales for the upcoming Confederations Cup are disproportionate. Worries persist among many that the local audience for the Confederations Cup and the subsequent World Cup will be small.

Yet football's world governing body is concerned that when the best teams in the world arrive for next year's finals, there might be few locals to watch them. Although global ticket demand for the World Cup is high, the local pick-up has been slow and FIFA is unhappy with South Africa's marketing for its forthcoming tournaments. "There isn't a single promotion of the events, even when you arrive at the airport," secretary general Jerome Valcke lamented earlier this month.

This might partly explain the poor ticket sales ahead of June's Confederations Cup, the eight-team tournament featuring the various continental champions not to mention the last World Cup winners too: Italy being joined by Brazil, Spain, Iraq, New Zealand, America, Egypt and the hosts. Yet with just three months to go, little more than a quarter of the tickets have been snapped up.


As the African Diaspora flourishes, the game is also advancing back home - at least monetarily. While the continent's domestic football will always be plagued by inadequate pitches, poor preparation, nutrition, salaries, administration and of course, corruption, sponsors are now pumping record amounts of money into the African Champions League.

African eyes all turn to World Cup
March 26, 2009