Saturday, May 29, 2010

Queues and crashes

I thought that it would be a good idea to queue up first thing this morning outside the World Cup ticket office in Sandton, northern Johannesburg, after learning that FIFA were releasing 164,000 tickets in the last ticket phase, in the hope of getting one more match. Having only got home from the Bafana v Columbia match at 1am, my alarm went off at 5:30am (groan) and I was at the ticket office an hour later. Problem was that there were some that had been sleeping there overnight and rumours were flying around that some had even been there since Wednesday evening. There seemed to be multiple queues, and as a good Englishman, I decided to join one and see what happened. It turned out to be the queue to get in the queue!

The first 500 people were assigned numbers and when they ran out, a security guard started entering peoples' names and phone numbers. There were multiple pre-queue queues, all competing to get their names on the list first. People were tired and irritable but there was no violence. While standing in one of the numerous queues, I heard some white, middle class South Africans in designer sunglasses complain that this disorganisation was typical of South Africa, that "nothing in the country works" and that "the whole world is laughing at us". If the World Cup has brought South Africans of all backgrounds together, it has also reinforced the perceptions held by some of the country becoming "the next Zimbabwe".

 Waiting patiently for tickets. Apparently the patience later wore out

By 9am, the guard entered my name at the back of a rather large pad of names. If this was happening around the country, I stood next to no chance of getting any tickets other than the most expensive ones to a New Zealand game (not what I wanted). My stomach reminded me that I hadn't had breakfast and so I gave up.

I later found out four things.

  1. Feefa lied. There were only 90,000 tickets made available.

  2. The system crashed soon after the ticket office opened, creating even more chaos.

  3. Feefa had promised that the system wouldn't crash.

  4. I wouldn't have been allowed to buy tickets at the ticket office anyway. SA residents only!

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