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Cereal Box Tops

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Fifa are much exercised about all the empty seats and are investigating. The reason given by most commentators is the failures in public transport in getting people to the ground but there are other problems.

First, the suburban railway system has been arriving at the Port Elizabeth and Jo’burg grounds with empty passenger cars. This is because criminal violence on those railways is so common that anyone with a choice avoids them. Ditto black taxis.

Second, as I forecast long ago, there is a great difficulty in getting South Africans to go to games like South Korea v. Greece or Algeria v. Slovenia. These may actually be very good games but no one here has heard of or seen their players in action. They watch the Premiership and local sides, that’s all.

Third, because of the above and official embarrassment over empty seats, both nationalised industries and some private ones have been offered great swathes of cut-price tickets which they then distribute to favoured customers or staff etc. But that by no means guarantees that such people will go to the game. They got their tickets for free like cereal box tops and no one ever cashes in all their cereal box tops.

Fifa only care because they want the TV cameras to show full stadiums. But they are guaranteed to make several billion from the TV rights regardless.

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