I have made my share of mistakes in pursuit of journalism. I take no pleasure in pointing out the mistakes of others.
But this story and (essentially) the retraction that followed, by the Johannesburg Times tells us about the ticket system for South Africa 2010 -- as well as illustrates how the newspaper didn't quite get it right the first time.
The trap was the Times checking ticket sales and determining that only about 20 percent of tickets to the 2010 World Cup have been sold. That is a good story, considering the event is barely seven months away.
However, it seems that only about 20 percent of the tickets have been offered to buyers, with organizers holding the rest for sale after the Dec. 4 World Cup draw. Which makes perfect sense, because not until the draw will fans know when their team is going to play, and where. So far, fans are just buying tickets at locations, with no idea who might be there that day.
The Times owns up to all that in this story, which appeared today, one day after the "holy mackerel, only 20 percent of tickets are sold" story ran.
It is fair to ask if the citizens of an impoverished nation will turn out to see the likes or North Korea, New Zealand, Slovakia, Chile ... and whether those teams will send enough of their own fans to fill stadiums.
I wonder. Yes. I wonder. It wouldn't be a surprise in the least if not all tickets are sold.
But it's too early to suggest that we know the answers.