Lessons we should have learnt in 2010
Back in 2010, during football’s first huge showpiece on the continent, one could not access the stadium easily. For more than a kilometre or so away, roads were barricaded and cars diverted along different routes.
There were park-and-ride facilities. There were dedicated trains. There were buses and minibus taxis on offer – these buses had dedicated lanes to drop football lovers closer to the venues.
Then there was that foreign process of buying tickets for matches. One had to register before the actual purchase could be made. Once the payment had gone through, tickets were printed with the name of the individual and that of an allocated seat.
Once at the stadium, there were checks before the actual entrance. Those without tickets had their journey ended at one of those checks – way before they gained access to the stadium perimeter.
It was something we had not experienced before. It annoyed many of us who were used to arriving at the stadium at the 11th hour to buy tickets. It was professionalism at its best and in line with football games in advanced countries the world over.
The Premier Soccer League is pegged as one of the best in the world and a leading example in Africa.
Running such an organisation also dictates that we need to adopt new methods to keep up with our competitors in Europe, Asia and the US.
Some of the methods used for the beautiful games in advanced economies cannot be implemented immediately. But there are some practices we should have adopted seven years ago.
We chose not to. As soon as the final whistle was blown at the World Cup, we went back to the way we had always done things – local is lekker, as we say.
Tickets for PSL games and national team games are sold without seat numbers – you can sit anywhere in the stadium as long as you are in the tier you bought tickets for.
While tickets are readily available across stores, like Shoprite (a widely represented business across the country, as evidenced when the tickets for the recent Carling Black Label Cup were sold out more than a week before kick-off), tickets are still available at the stadium.
Access to the stadium is not restricted as it was during the World Cup. This could be one of those things that prompt chancers to go to the stadium even if they do not have tickets, in the hope that there will be someone selling them – a great opportunity for fake ticket sellers.
Inside the stadium, one is confronted with smokers who puff away in full view of stadium security – this did not happen during the World Cup as those who lit up were quickly told to stop.
The prospect of being forced to be secondary smokers, uncertainty over one’s seat and the lack of reliable transportation to and from the games are some of the things that put off would-be stadium-goers.
These are some of the small matters which, if implemented fully at stadiums, might lead to those bums on seats – something that we only experience when the Soweto derby is on display.
As the government-appointed and PSL inquiries start their work on what happened last Saturday, when two football lovers lost their lives, maybe it is time for football bosses to implement some of the lessons we learnt during the World Cup spectacle.