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Two steps forward, one step back
by Paul Kennedy, July 18th, 2012 3:31AM

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TAGS:  olympics

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Britain and Olympic soccer have never gone together, and that won't change, it seems, with the London Olympics.

The news that poor ticket sales have forced Olympic organizers to withdraw 500,000 tickets from distribution and slash stadium capacities is disappointing.

Six stadiums will be the venues for men's and women's soccer: Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, City of Coventry Stadium, Old Trafford in Manchester, St James' Park in Newcastle, Hampden Park in Glasgow and London's Wembley Stadium.

"We are not in bad shape on tickets," insisted organizing committee chief Sebastian Coe, "but football tickets at a Games are always the challenge. I think we'll do pretty well."

Coe is, of course, wrong about soccer always being a tough sell. He was probably too busy preparing for the men's 1,500 meters he won a second time to know that soccer was a smash hit at the 1984 Olympics -- an impetus for FIFA to push for the United States to bid for the 1994 World Cup.

There was only men's soccer in 1984. It wasn't until 1996 that women's soccer was introduced, and it's been a popular feature of the Olympic Games ever since.

Coe referred to tickets of 37,000-38,000 for the Britain-New Zealand women's match on opening day next Wednesday as evidence of interest in Olympic soccer.

What Coe didn't mention were advance sales for next Wednesday's other two doubleheaders in Glasgow and Coventry.

The best first-round game in women's soccer will also take place on opening day when the USA and France meet at legendary Hampden Park in Glasgow. The capacity of Hampden Park has been reduced since 1960 when 130,000 fans watched Real Madrid beat Eintracht Frankfurt in their epic European Cup final. And sections of Hampden Park will surely be closed off due to poor demand, further reducing its size from its current capacity of 52,000.

You'd think USA-France -- a rematch of last year's Women's World Cup semifinal featuring two of the most exciting teams in the world -- would fill a good part of Hampden Park but we were told that as of early last month only 200 tickets were sold for the Wednesday doubleheader that features Colombia-North Korea in the nightcap.

Women's soccer is growing in popularity across Europe. A crowd of more than 50,000 in Munich watched French club Lyon win the 2012 UEFA Women's Champions League, and huge crowds turned out for the 2011 Women's World Cup in Germany.

But it will be a case of two steps forward and one step back if tickets sales for women's soccer are as poor as we've been led to believe.



2 comments
  1. Robert Robertson
    commented on: July 18, 2012 at 9:31 a.m.
    I can't say what the actual attendence for the womens games will be, but, whatever it is should not be a surprise if its relatively small in number. The British FA 1/2 century ban on womens soccer still lingers in popular consciousness - both for the British team and fans.

  1. Ivan Mark Radhakrishnan
    commented on: July 18, 2012 at 10:47 a.m.
    Thousands of EMPTY STADIUMS, hundreds of millions of EMPTY SEATS, LOST SALES, LOST OPPORTUNITIES and LOST INTEREST computed in billions and the HIGHEST PROFILE DISASTER occurs with The Olympics screaming we cannot sell 500,000 tickets / seats! I could have sold ALL the Football and the other Tickets / Seats JUST BY BEING SMART AND USING INCENTIVES! Some 'smart alecks' thought David Beckham was the answer. I wish Jacques Rogge, Sebastian Coe and others who are responsible could be bankrupted by making them pay for some of the extremely high costs of generating EMPTY SEATS ______________ A very important thing to note is what Jacques Rogge, Lord Sebastian Coe and The Olympics Organizers are doing is FRAUD! Sport relies finance from Advertisers, Sponsors and Partners too. HIDING SEATS THEY FAILED TO SELL IF THEFT. And I can't help wondering who do Rogge, Coe & Co think they are fooling? Will they use this experience to rectify the problem or will they simply wait for another City to finance a guaranteed loss?


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