The final World Cup ticket sales phase, marked by poor organisation and IT chaos, has left thousands of hopeful fans dismayed and angry.
Many fans were forced to wait hours to process a ticket application, as Fifa’s booking system repeatedly crashed.
The computer failure affected all 11 Fifa ticket offices and 600 FNB branches made available nationally to cope with demand.
More than half a million tickets were issued for the fifth and final sales phase, allowing fans for the first time to buy tickets over the counter.
Long queues snaked outside FNB branches and at Fifa’s official ticketing centres, where hundreds of fans had camped for hours in the hope of snapping up tickets.
Last night Jaime Byrom, the CEO of Match, Fifa’s official ticketing service provider, said: “We want to extend our apologies to the public, who tried to obtain tickets, and we want to thank them for their patience and understanding.”
Fifa announced that with “a huge demand”, more than 53 000 tickets were sold in eight hours.
By 4pm tickets for a total of 23 matches were no longer available, including the opening game, the final and the two semi-finals.
In Pretoria the police’s elite tactical task team (TRT), trained to deal with violent and armed criminals, clashed with football fans waiting to buy tickets at the Brooklyn Mall Fifa ticketing office.
The dozen or so officers, wearing their signature black berets and body armour, used their rifles to charge into people, flung women by their clothing on to the floor and eventually used pepper spray to disperse the crowd which thronged the office.
The team’s intervention was the culmination of a day that started off in excitement for the 1 500 or so people who had gathered at the mall to buy the much-sought-after tickets, but ended in a rugby scrum between them and the authorities who tried several times to restore order to the chaotic situation.
Officials said they had not expected such a large response to over-the-counter ticket sales – a problem experienced across the country.
At the Brooklyn Mall, there was no organisation or planned crowd control, which resulted in large numbers of fans forcing their way up against the entrance to the ticket office.
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