World Cup’s cheapest tickets reserved for South Africans

World football body Fifa aims to prevent a black market trade in cheap tickets for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa by making tickets for the tournament only available for collection in the country, Fifa announced on Wednesday.

Tickets for the tournament go on sale to the general public on Friday on Fifa’s website, fifa.com, and through nationwide branches of South Africa’s First National Bank (FNB), a national World Cup sponsor.

This sale starts online at 1pm (11am GMT) and runs until March 31.

Fans applying for a ticket in this first of five ticket-sale phases will be entered into a draw that takes place on April 15. Within three days, they should be notified if they were successful.

Those who were unsuccessful will have several more opportunities to buy tickets, right up until the day of the World Cup final on July 11 2010.

In total, about three-million paid tickets will be available for the tournament that begins on June 11 2010 and is being staged in nine cities around South Africa.

Of these about one million tickets will be given to Fifa commercial affiliates, hospitality providers and broadcast outlets, leaving about two million tickets for the general public, of which 743 965 tickets will be made available from Friday.

Irrespective of how early they apply, fans will have to wait until April 2010 to hold a ticket in their hands, when they will be available for collection at designated ticketing centres in the nine host cities and some international airports.

International fans will enter their payment cards into a terminal to redeem their ticket. Those who bought their tickets through FNB will be issued with special prepaid cards, which they use to withdraw their tickets.

In order to facilitate the access of ordinary South African football fans to a tournament that might otherwise be beyond their reach, Fifa has blocked off about 16% of the tickets — all the cheapest category four tickets — for South African residents.

These tickets start at R140, ”which is the cheapest price of a World Cup ticket for many, many years,” David Will, head of the Fifa sub-ticketing committee told a media ticketing seminar in Johannesburg.

Addressing concerns that these tickets might find their ways into the hands of overseas fans, Jaime Byrom, chairperson of Fifa’s ticketing agency Match, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that category four ticket holders would be required to provide proof of residence upon collection.

For international fans, the tickets range in price from $80 for a category three ticket for a group match to $900 for a category one ticket to the final in Soccer City, Soweto.

Each fan may apply for a maximum four tickets per match for up to seven matches, or four team-specific ticket series of up to seven games for a chosen team.

Overseas fans have to pay their tickets in dollars. South Africans will pay for theirs in rands at a very favourable exchange rate of $1 to R7 (the current exchange rate is $1 to R9,80).

In a World Cup first, Fifa will hand out 120 000 free category four tickets to South Africans, of which 40 000 will be given to the workers that helped build the new stadiums. — Sapa-dpa

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