People the world over are feeling the pinch as a result of a global economic crisis, but organisers of the FIFA World Cup™ don't expect this to stop fans from following their teams to the world's biggest sporting event in South Africa in 2010.
"The World Cup only happens every four years. Football fans will come," said FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke. "There are football fans that will pay between €5 000 and €7 000 on the black market for a single World Cup or UEFA Cup Final ticket. You can come to South Africa, pay for flights and accommodation for five or six days, and it will work out to less than that."
Valcke was answering questions from the media at a press conference today at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg on the eve of the Official Draw for the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009.
"We accept that people might have fewer dollars, but those dollars will buy more rands," said 2010 FIFA World Cup Organising Committee South Africa (OC) Chief Executive Officer Danny Jordaan. "The rand was at seven to the dollar, it is now at ten to the dollar and predictions are that it could go to 20 to the dollar, so people will still travel because the destination becomes cheaper."
Jordaan said that the OC was adopting a "wait and see attitude" towards the economic situation but that there were indications of a recovery in the second quarter of 2010.
The present economic crisis in the developed world, being described as the deepest since the Great Depression of 1929, has resulted in the depreciation of the South African rand by 30% against the dollar in recent weeks, in line with many other emerging market currencies.
The upside, though, is that FIFA's dollars to the Organising Committee to stage the tournament are now going further when converted to rands.
South Africa will host the FIFA Confederations Cup from 14 June to 28 June 2009. But the economic slowdown is not expected to have an impact on the tournament. "We do not anticipate a high number of foreign fans coming to South Africa for the FIFA Confederations Cup. We made the decision to run a strong, focused campaign getting South Africans to fill the stadiums long before the crisis emerged," said Jordaan.
The Category four ticket for the FIFA Confederations Cup, which is reserved for South African citizens, will remain fixed at R70 for a group match and R210 for the final, despite a depreciating rand. "The money to build the stadiums and ensure that the World Cup is a success came from South African tax payers and they deserve to benefit," said OC Chairman Irvin Khoza.