Tuesday, March 2, 2010

2010's Dirty Little Secret: Africans Priced Out

The BBC has brought us up to date on this.

Don't look for many Africans at the African World Cup.

South Africans? Yes, they will be at the 2010 World Cup. Organizers and Fifa set aside some $20 tickets for them, and then diverted about 700,000 more, last month, when foreigners didn't buy tickets in the numbers the officials had hoped for.

But for Africans who aren't South African?

Now we have a problem, as the BBC story points out.

The cheapest ticket for a non-South African is $80. Which is serious money in Africa. Well, it's serious money most places in the world. And none of those people are going to go either.

But those other poor non-Africans never intended to go. Fifa, meanwhile, has been calling this "the African World Cup" from Day 1. Some Africans might even have thought they meant it. That somehow it would happen.

It gets worse. To buy tickets, you need to go to the Fifa website. Most Africans don't have access to the internet. Certainly not easy access.

You also need a credit card to buy tickets. Again, a major problem for Africans.

And a concept the BBC didn't broach, but a significant one: How do Africans get to South Africa?

The African continent has very, very few country-to-country air links. Typically, to get to any country that's further away than a drive (which is dangerous) ... you have to fly to Europe, change planes and go back to Africa. Often, to get to the country not all that far from your own. Sounds crazy, but that's how it is -- Africans don't travel between countries on their own continent to generate commercial air routes.

So, getting to South African is almost as hard for Africans as it is for Americans. And harder than it is for Europeans -- who already are in Europe, where the planes for Africa take off.

So, no, don't look for scads of Nigerians, Cameroonians, Algerians, Ghanaians or Ivory Coast-ians at the World Cup, even though their teams will be. Because they can't afford the tickets -- even if they had an internet connection ... even if they had a credit card ... and even if they could get there.

So, let's not call it the African World Cup. Let's call it the South African World Cup, and leave it at that. That is ambitious enough. Let's not try to make this into something it can't be.

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