Web Flubs World Cup Ticket Sales

Raising questions about the Internet’s ability to sell tickets to major international events, technical problems on the official site of soccer’s 2002 World Cup have left fans in the co-host countries of Japan and Korea unable to order tickets online for the championship of the world’s most popular sport.

The monetary stakes are high: nearly 3 million total seats, at prices ranging from US$60 to $750, will be sold for for the championship, to be held from May 31st to June 20th, 2002. Reportedly, about 1.3 million tickets are to be sold in the two host countries.

However, just as Japan and Korea were preparing to begin accepting online applications for World Cup tickets late last week, the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) said that sales through the Internet in the two countries would be delayed due to technical problems.

Misfiring at the Goal

Japanese or Korean sports fans attempting to buy their tickets online Tuesday found the following message: “We are sorry. Online application for venue-specific tickets (VST) for matches in Korea by Korean residents and venue-specific tickets (VST) for matches in Japan by Japanese residents is currently not possible.”

FIFA attributed the glitch to infrastructure damage to the computer system of the company commissioned by FIFA.

Other Avenues

Overseas online ticket sales have not been affected, and Korean and Japanese residents may still apply for tickets via postal mail. Almost 92,000 paper applications have been received in South Korea so far, with about 34,250 tallied in Japan, organizers said.

In the likely possibility that ticket demand will exceed supply, Japanese and Korean fans must apply for their tickets by March 14th in order to be eligible for a March 28th lottery that will determine whether or not they receive tickets.

However, a spokesperson from FIFA told industry press Tuesday that Japanese and Korean soccer fans are not at risk for being left out of the ticketing process. The spokesperson said that FIFA expects the online ticket system to be up and running by the end of this week in the host countries.

Olympics Set the Pace

“It is very regrettable applications for tickets via the Internet that fans had expected to do were postponed suddenly at FIFA’s request,” said Yasuhiko Endoh, the general secretary of JAWOC, Japan’s local organizing committee.

“JAWOC had gone all out to make sure it would be able to meet the need of Japanese fans to apply for tickets through the Internet,” Endoh said. “The occurrence of the latest development is truly regrettable.”

The Internet has increasingly become the central ticket agency for major international sporting events. Last December, International Olympic Committee marketing director Michael Payne that 99 percent of the tickets sold for the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah — some $50 million worth — were purchased via the Web.

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