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Saturday, January 30, 2010

SA Airlines Try To Fix Prices For World Cup

Because of the sheer size of South Africa as a country, internal flights are going to be critical for fans attending the 2010 World Cup Finals.

To give a simple example : Cape Town to Johannesburg is a 17 hour drive and let's face it, no one wants to drive for 17 hours when there's football to be watched and drinking to be done.

While it's only to be expected that hotels and other businesses will put up their prices to take advantage of the influx of visitors for the finals, there is a line in the sand. And price-fixing well and truly crosses that line.

However, that hasn't stopped South Africa's domestic airlines from trying to get together and fix prices for internal airtravel during May and June 2010. Luckily, one of the airlines bottled it and have passed on evidence to South Africa's competition watchdog in exchange for 'leniency'.

The watchdog are now investigating a number of big name airlines, including part-British Airways-owned Comair as well as state-owned South African Airways, 1time, SA Airlink, Mango and SA Express.

This kind of thing makes me well and truly sick. These airlines were already going to make bumper profits as a result of the Finals, but their greed has obviously got the better of them. I hope they get huge penalties and all passengers can claim compensation.

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posted by mark_s at 7:19 PM 1 comments

Friday, January 29, 2010

African Cup of Nations : What The Hell Is Going On?

I took time out from my busy schedule of pretending to work on my websites to watch Egypt demolish Algeria in, typically, controversial fashion last night.

I also caught the highlight (there was only one) of Ghana's victory over Nigeria.

And the conclusion I came to? The only consistent team in the whole competition (Egypt) aren't even going to be at the 2010 World Cup and the others are, well, either shockingly badly or surprisingly good on a match-by-match basis.

Unfortunately, one team's 'surprisingly good' has all too frequently coincided with another's 'shockingly bad'. Witness Algeria's 3-2 victory over Ivory Coast as an example.

Frankly, the 2010 Africa Cup Of Nations has left me utterly confused about the quality of African teams. But I am willing to bet that none will get further than the second round at World Cup 2010 - teams like Italy and Germany show that consistency is what wins big tournaments and none of these sides has that quality.

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posted by mark_s at 7:40 PM 0 comments

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Big Brother Is Watching You!

Regular readers of this blog might know that I like to mock the whole corporate sponsorship culture that surrounds the World Cup Finals.

Personally, I don't really care that an Indian IT company wants to pay £32 million to be a World Cup 'sponsor'. It's their money; they can piss it up against whichever wall they choose. And, before the World Cup 2010 starts, I will be mocking the whole concept of a football event even needing an 'IT sponsor'.

But, I disgress.

What I do find egregious (look it up) is the way in which FIFA is seeking to maximise their income by turning the screws on smaller businesses who wish to promote themselves during World Cup year.

This document suggests that FIFA will sue you if you use the phrase '2010' in relation to the words 'soccer' or 'football' if you are not an official sponsor, partner or whatever other category of money-making nonsense they have come up with.

There is even the suggestion that FIFA hold the rights to all billboard advertising within a 5km radius of any World Cup stadium.

This is the kind of crass commercialisation that I, personally, find sickening. Especially as it restricts the opportunities for local (and by that, I meant South African) businesses to compete.

I remember when the World Cup was about football, not about money.

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posted by mark_s at 7:11 PM 0 comments

Monday, January 25, 2010

Paraguay Striker Shot In The Head

Paraguay international Salvador Cabanas was shot in the head in Mexico in an apparently unprovoked attack.

Cabanas, who - as Wikipedia will tell you - has scored shitloads (technical soccer term) of goals in both Paraguay and Mexico, apparently "responded well to questions" but is in a critical condition in a Mexican hospital.

There's not a lot of details about this, but what's known is right here.

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posted by mark_s at 9:58 PM 0 comments

No One Is Actually Going to the 2010 World Cup

Some of Europe's more football loving nations, including Germany and England, have announced figures regarding how many tickets for the 2010 World Cup they have managed to sell so far.

The English F.A have said they have had to send back 6,000 of their 29,000 ticket allocation, while the German F.A have apparently sold only 1,916 of 21,000 tickets.

Predictably, and - on the surface - understandably, this has lead to the usual media hysteria about safety in South African 2010.

Even usually canny commentators, like Martin Samuel, have been in on the act. However, closer inspection reveals a very different picture.

Take the fact that England have returned 6,000 tickets to FIFA as exhibit one, so to speak. What has been strangely underreported is that half of these were for a potential 3rd v 4th place play-off match.

And, oh yes, the Round of 16 match is oversubscribed and the English FA are hoping to get more tickets. These two things, unfortunately, don't fit into the type of story that the media want to write, so they get ignored.

As for the - on the surface - very low sales by the German FA, well, here's Wolfgang Niersbach - head of the German Soccer Federation - to put it in perspective:

"Sales are normal and similar to the 2002 World Cup, and the comparison with 2002 offers itself because of the similar distance and the resulting costs."

And that '1,916' figure that seems to be quoted everywhere? Well, that's not accurate either. In fact, over 25,000 Germans have ordered tickets for ALL the World Cup 2010 matches.

So, it's not going too badly, is it?

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posted by mark_s at 6:36 PM 2 comments