Lessons we should have learnt in 2010

CityPress - - Sport - Du­misane Lu­bisi . du­misane.lu­bisi@city­press.co.za

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.

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