Tickets for football’s Africa Cup of Nations semifinals are still available, with organisers stating 43,000 remained unsold as of Friday.
Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban had 19,000 tickets unsold while the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, which has been severely criticised for the state of it’s sandlogged pitch, had 24,000 tickets available for Wednesday’s semifinals.
The February 10 final in Johannesburg however only had 6,000 tickets unsold in a stadium able to hold more than 85 000 soccer fans.
Confederation of African Football (CAF) secretary general Hicham El Amrani said Nelspruit needed to work hard but understood fans were hedging their bets until the participants were decided.
“We understand that some spectators don’t want to commit before they know who is going to play in those semi-finals,” he said.
A total of of 433 053 tickets had been bought by the public for the tournament and 278 596 complimentary tickets have been distributed.
Local organising committee (LOC) chairman Mvuzo Mbebe said the consistently low attendances at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth had been particularly noticeable.
Given how free transport and tickets to the games had been provided, it was surprising how few people had turned out. The city will host the third-place play-off on Saturday.
“We are looking now at the system of, instead of us issuing complimentary tickets beforehand, we only give people tickets when they arrive at the bus station or the train station,” said Mbebe.
Given the challenges the LOC had faced in organising the tournament, Mbebe was understandably pleased with how the competition had proceeded overall thus far.
“We got the thumbs up from CAF, and we also got the thumbs up from the public of South Africa,” he said.