Fri, Oct 12, 2012 - Page 18 News List

FIFA acts to try to put end to empty seats at World Cup

AP, LONDON

FIFA will try to minimize the number of empty seats at the 2014 World Cup by taking measures to ensure sponsors use their allocation — or lose them.

There were large blocks of empty seats at some stadiums at the 2010 World Cup, and again at this year’s European Championships.

At the Leaders in Football conference on Wednesday, FIFA marketing director Thierry Weil said that sponsors would have to name the people using tickets two or three days before matches in Brazil.

“They cannot just say the people will come and then nobody comes,” Weil said. “The tickets will only be handed over the day of the game to the people, so you can reallocate tickets to different people, even in the sponsor families.”

This was a major issue at the London 2012 Olympics, where there was outrage that fans couldn’t get into venues despite corporate seats being empty.

“We are concerned by no-shows, that is clear because it does not look good,” Weil said. “And it especially does not look good if you announce to the world that you have no tickets, then you see on TV that you have a lot of empty seats.”

A system will be trialed at the Confederations Cup in June when Weil says Brazil will show it is ready to stage the World Cup.

“At certain stages, there will be some wake-up calls,” he said. “At certain stages, there will be some delays. At certain stages, there will be negative things from different people. But, Brazil will be ready.”

Former Brazil striker Ronaldo assured the conference of that.

“The organization of course has to be perfect — we guarantee it will be perfect,” Ronaldo, who now works for the organizing committee, said. “As for the sporting side there will be no guarantees there.”

But Ronaldo hopes playing on home soil will help the team deliver Brazil’s sixth world title.

“This will be added incentive. It will be motivation. I think it will have a positive impact,” he said. “Otherwise I will be playing again.”

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