FIFA will give away free tickets to fans in South Africa in an attempt to fill the thousands of empty seats at the Confederations Cup.
FIFA spokesman Nicolas Maingot says “there will be a number of complimentary tickets actually handed to institutions, institutions which have been very supportive of the event.”
Maingot did not reveal how many tickets would be handed out, but he said it will be for some of the remaining group matches. Schools and local authorities will be among the recipients of the free tickets.
After a near sellout in the opening match at Ellis Park in Johannesburg involving hosts South Africa, matches in Rustenburg, Pretoria and Bloemfontein were all played in stadiums well below capacity.
FIFA’s announcement came after the country’s trade union confederation described the attendance at Confederations Cup matches as an embarrassment to South Africa.
“The Congress of South African Trade Unions urgently calls upon South Africans to buy more tickets and attend the Confederations Cup matches in greater numbers,” congress spokesman Patrick Craven said in a statement.
“The low turnouts at some matches have been a serious embarrassment to the country and must be improved upon, if we are to demonstrate to the world our passion for soccer, and to remove any doubts about our commitment to the 2010 World Cup tournament.”