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World Cup 2018: the scandal of the empty seats

Filed: Monday, 23rd July 2018
By: Staff Writer #3

World Cup 2018 has ended. A competition that was everything except taken for granted, with some of the favourites dropping out in the group stage and the first playoffs.

There was also a scandal about the number of empty seats during some very important games, including the quarter-final match between England and Sweden, and the semi-final game between France and Belgium. Theoretically, the playoffs were scheduled on the calendar of each Germany fan out there. It was almost obvious that the 2014 world champions would have arrived at least at this stage of the competition. But that was clearly not the case. It is believed that German fans bought and sold 10,000 tickets in advance, as their team finished last on the table, and was eliminated in the group stage.

So, what exactly happened?

Regarding the Group A match between Egypt and Uruguay in Ekaterinburg, FIFA said the cause for the embarrassing number of empty seats was due to “no shows”. The sad image of empty orange seats have been noticed by fans all over the world and published and commented on social medias. Despite more than 32,000 tickets for the 33,000-seat stadium were sold, more than 5,000 people did not show up, leading FIFA to open an investigation into what happened. After that, FIFA confirmed: the cause at the Ekaterinburg match was linked to the "no-show" of all constituent groups. The reference to "all constituent groups" is interesting. It is thought that these were too many tickets for member associations and sponsors, and not enough for the fans.

But it’s not just the World Cup 2018

The problem of empty seats is recurrent across multiple major sports tournaments. A large number of tickets distributed to national football federations often remain unsold, while some end up in the hands of authorised distributors who can’t sell them.The sponsors, who are assigned a certain number of tickets in exchange for their support for the event, do not usually show up. Given this, it is logical that many seats remain empty.

But solutions do exist. At least to make the images of a stadium less depressing. In 2010, fans of Triestina, an Italian football team, found a surprise during a match played in Padova. For the first time in four years, almost all the seats (10,000) along one side of the stadium seemed full. These sudden "fans" were actually two-dimensional images printed on a giant sheet placed on empty seats. Triestina was therefore the first team to have installed the so-called "virtual crowd" in the world of sport.

Value for money

But the key to success is always the quality-price ratio, or better known as value for money. The price of game and annual tickets can sometimes go up, and there are lots of examples of this. It is therefore necessary to understand how much people are willing to pay for a given event. But prices can also drop down significantly to boost the crowd for a given game. For example, the cheapest seats in the Stade de France were priced around £5 for children. For a Saturday night in Paris, a price like this is unbeatable. I mean, what else can you do with just £5 (apart from staying at home)? This strategy works not only for the number of viewers - which increases - but allows the stadium to enjoy extra revenue.

Whatever the case, new research has shown that 59% of fans prefer to see sporting events at home. Not only can they save money, but they can also do it comfortably from their sofa. Moreover, it is not even necessary to have special TV subscriptions, as the portals that offer streaming are spreading.

Often it is sufficient to have an active account, without fixed monthly payments. And with the advent of virtual reality, seeing games directly from home will become even more compelling. Soon we could perhaps wear virtual glasses and be transported directly into the stadium, just as if we were really there. And the problem of empty seats will no longer really be a problem.

Maybe the one of the bigger advantages when watching sports at home, is sports betting. The ability to place bets and follow more than one match at a time without the noise and distraction sounds really appealing. Nowadays, people use the perks of online betting to do just about anything, from depositing and withdrawing funds, to placing live bets. What’s better, you can use PayPal for betting, and avoid using your credit/debit card across multiple providers. If you consider all the things we’ve mentioned, you’ll realise that missing out on watching a game live could not be as bad as it sounds for a true football fan - given everything in mind.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

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