Thursday, December 10, 2009

Algeria May Pay Costs of Fans to Go to SA 2010

That's one way to get 5-10,000 friendly fans in the stands.

Pay for them to get there.

Algeria famously charged nothing for about 11,000 of its fans to fly to the Sudan for the special playoff match against Egypt ... the one Algeria won, 1-0, putting it into the finals in South Africa.

Now, the government apparently is considering a reprise of that generosity for the finals, during which the Algerians will play two countries that have lots of fans paying their own way -- the United States and England.

The Guardian, an English newspaper, has some details on Algeria's planning.

The question not quite answered in the story is whether Algeria actually intended to let 11,000 fans show up, on its flag-carrier airline, at Sudan. Notice the wording about how the fans crowded onto the flights, and most were never charged a fee. Was that a plan? Or a mini-stampede that got out of control?

This time, 3,000 seats have been "blocked out" for Algeria supporters. Will that turn into another freebie? It's a much longer flight, from Algiers to South Africa than it is from Algiers to Khartoum. Much bigger expense, per flight.

Seemingly, Algeria will need all the help it can get. Algeria hasn't been in the World Cup since 1986, and was not favored to survive Egypt in the special playoff. It generally is regarded as the weakest team in Group C, which includes little Slovenia.

Several thousand sympathetic fans traveling at government expense ... that would go a long way towards making Algeria feel more at home in South Africa.

Just don't look for too many other governments to follow suit.

1 comment:

  1. Beforehand, I had read that the flights to the playoff game were being offered at a reduced rate — $200 round trip — so I'm guessing the freebie trips were more likely a matter of the crowd getting out of hand.