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FIFA to tackle empty seat blight at World Cup

By Keith Weir

LONDON (Reuters) - Fans will be able to sell unwanted tickets online during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil as FIFA tries to ensure that as many seats as possible are filled at stadiums.

The London Olympics and Euro 2012 were both blighted by rows of empty seats at supposedly sold-out venues, frustrating fans and detracting from the spectacle for television audiences.

Sponsors will also be asked to give details of who is using their tickets, FIFA Marketing Director Thierry Weil said on Wednesday, adding that it was impossible to eradicate "no shows" from ticket holders.

"What we expect from the sponsors is to be fair and open with us on who is coming and who is not coming, which tickets they will use and which tickets they will not use in advance of the game so that we can reallocate those tickets," Weil told reporters at the Leaders in Football conference.

"The no-show is a bigger concern than the commercial side. Even with a resale platform, you will have people just not coming," Weil added.

An increasing number of European soccer clubs are doing deals with secondary ticketing companies to allow fans to sell seats online for matches they cannot attend.

Weil said FIFA, world soccer's governing body, would be testing its ticket systems during the Confederations Cup in Brazil in 2013, an event which is seen as a dry run for the World Cup.

He envisaged the ticket exchange being mainly used by international fans who decided not to travel to Brazil or had bought tickets for latter stages only for their team to be eliminated.

Brazil will announce ticket prices for the tournament next month and faces pressure to ensure that poorer people are not shut out of the tournament in a country where there are huge differences in wealth.

"The goal is to keep access for all the different groups of Brazilians," Weil said.

(Writing by Keith Weir; Editing by Alison Wildey)

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