Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fan Fests! for Ticketless ... Fans

Seems a bit late to be getting around to this, six weeks ahead of the World Cup. But better than late than never ... we think. I mean, assuming security is OK, and people are able to get in and out ...

South Africa 2010 will have what they are calling Fan Fests, just as Germany did in 2006.

The idea is basic and almost a "have to do it" sort of thing.

Organizers arrange places where fans can gather and watch matches -- in large groups -- and enjoy the feeling of being at a match ... when they are not.

South Africa concedes right off that it won't have Fan Fests on the scale Germany did, where an estaimted 18 million people gathered at non-game-venues to watch matches.

South Africa's total Fan Fest capacity is 275,000, all of it at stadiums not being used for the World Cup. That isn't a big number, but that is a start, especially in a country where many soccer fans cannot afford match tickets. If they can get in free to see, say, their own team play, or Brazil or one of Africa's other team ... well, that's a great gesture.

It's a little unsettling that this is just now coming together. Anything organized at the last minute tends to turn out ... looking like something last-minute.

Presumably, people in South Africa have been talking to the Germans about this. Tips about organization and logistics and transport and all that.

I know people who have been at these sorts of events. Such as outside the Hotel de Ville in Paris in 1998 for the opener between Brazil and Scotland, and it was described as great fun, with thousands of people there who couldn't get tickets or just wanted to party in a soccer atmosphere, perhaps without really caring all that much about the soccer but caring a lot about the event.

Anyway, yes, this SA2010 Fan Fest thing has the capacity to bring the World Cup much closer to lots of people who otherwise would feel no connection to it at all. That's good.
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