A crowd gathered at the entrance to the ticketing center in Cape Town, one of 11 centers which opened countrywide Thursday, and chanted and yelled at organizers. Police were called to keep them calm.
After 3 1/2 hours, only 32 people out of a crowd of about 1,000 had managed to buy tickets.
“No one’s informed us what’s going on. No one’s directing the public outside. A primary school sports event could be better organized than this,” said Theo Spangenberg, who had been waiting for 16 hours and still hadn’t made it inside the newly opened ticketing center. “For a World Cup, an international event of this nature, it’s a really, really bad show.”
The carnival atmosphere at the start of the day, as fans across the country were given a first chance to buy some of the 500,000 tickets still available, quickly disappeared in Cape Town. About 300 tickets for the final were to be sold on a first-come first-served basis.
Fans inside the ticketing center slept on the floor as they waited to be served.
A representative from Match, the company employed by FIFA to run the ticket process, blamed technical problems and said she could not guarantee that every person would be helped Thursday.
“I can understand there’s a lot of frustrated people outside, and we have experienced some teething problems, since it is our first day,” Christa Venter said. “The IT guys are well aware of the problem. Obviously it is a timely process, since we are experiencing quite high volumes at this stage countrywide.”
Local media also reported crowd scuffles at the ticket office in Pretoria. Earlier in Cape Town, a 64-year-old man died of an apparent heart attack, but it was not related to the problems at the ticket office.