Why is Indonesia suffering Cup ticketing chaos?

Indonesia has promised to improve ticketing for its next AFC Asian Cup 2007 match after a chaotic first game in the Group D series hosted by Indonesia saw hundreds of fans break through an emergency exit and thousands more unable to get seats despite sections of the 88,000 capacity stadium being empty. “Things will be better next time,” John Halmahera, the Football Association of Indonesia (PSSI) spokesman told Associated Press. He blamed the Asian Football Confederation for some of the problems, saying the body was late in distributing tickets to local organisers. He also denied local organisers were supplying large amounts of tickets direct to scalpers and sharing the profits with them, "a common practice at popular sports and other events in Indonesia," according to AP.

The AFC said it was investigating, but did not immediately comment.

However a football observer, who did not wished to be named, told Asian Football Business Review that the AFC and its intimate marketing and commercial agent, World Sport Group, had been aware of the ticketing problem in Indonesia "for months." He said the AFC and WSG had allowed PSSI to select a Malaysian on-line ticketing company to provide internet sales even though its website was only in English (with no Indonesian language text), was suspicious of Indonesian credit cards and had no booth outlets in Jakarta, let alone the other major cities of the sprawling archipelago of 18,000 islands and 240 million persons. "What a way to market tickets in the first month - knowing that the country had low internet and credit card usage," the source commented.

When regular ticketing opened in each of the four host countries 30-days before the first game, the AFC and WSG should have also been aware that PSSI had only opened a single ticket booth at the National Stadium to sell up to hundreds of thousands of tickets for the Group D series, Quarter Final, 3rd v 4th Final (in Palembang) and Cup Final. "There were even web and blog complaints that the ticket office was not open after business hours or on weekends," the source said. "This should have sent warning bells off everywhere."

UPDATE

The Jakarta Post reports that PSSI Secretary General Nugraha Besoes has ordered more ticket booths be opened at the National Stadium and to conduct business from 9:30 am to 4 pm on 12 and 13 July. "For the match between Indonesia and Saudi Arabia on 14 July, the organisers will close sales 15 minutes after kick-off," he said. The same ticketing system will apply for the Indonesia-South Korea clash on 18 July.

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