With the greatest sporting festival in the World now less than 100 days away, those who speculated on buying tickets for the Olympic Football tournament now finally know who they will be watching when the competition begins on Wednesday 25th July.
Apart from the novelty act of a Great Britain side and the chance to see Brazil and Spain there isn’t a great deal to get excited about. The other European representatives are the footballing powerhouses of Belarus and Switzerland, whilst double gold medallists Argentina are missing, Uruguay being the second South American representative.
The lack of a real box office draw will make the task of selling tickets even more difficult than it already has been. Football is the only sport in the entire Olympic Games which hasn’t sold out, and with the fixtures now released there are going to be some particularly hard sells.
The Team GB games could all go, particularly as all three of their games are part of a double header with the remaining Group A teams. Two matches for the price of one may well tempt fans to the matches, particularly once Stuart Pearce names his 18 man squad.
Brazil visit Cardiff (v Egypt, 26/7), Old Trafford (v Belarus 29/7) and Newcastle (v New Zealand 1/8) whilst Spain are at Hampden Park (v Japan, 26/7), St James Park (v Honduras 29/7) and Old Trafford (v Morocco, 1/8).
The hard sell comes for the remaining games. Those in the Midlands who may have fancied a trip to the Ricoh Arena have slim pickings to watch. Belarus v New Zealand is the opening fixture in Coventry and it doesn’t get much better after that, with the double header on 1st August featuring Japan v Honduras and Senegal v UAE probably the pick.
After applying for tickets for a host of events in the initial ballot, all I received was tickets for one of the games at Wembley, so in the third round of sales I went for the first day at Old Trafford and have been rewarded with GB’s opening game against Senegal as part of a double header with Uruguay v UAE as the hors d’ouerve.
That match may well see a full house, but I can categorically guarantee that the match I go to at Wembley will not be watched by a capacity crowd and it’s here that the madness of allocating the largest venues to matches that don’t feature the top seeds comes home to roost.
On the 1st August, the game scheduled to be held at Wembley was between the sides allocated positions 2 and 3 of Group B. That already meant that it wouldn’t be GB, Mexico, Brazil or Spain. The marketing men’s hearts must have shrunk when it became clear that the biggest stadium in Britain would be hosting Gabon v South Korea, a match that would struggle to fill Wimbledon never mind Wembley!
Either of those sides could be GB’s quarter final opponents should things go to plan for Stuart Pearce’s team, with Brazil a potential semi-final foe. If there is still home interest at that stage, then the attendances may rise. If not then empty seats may be the biggest contribution of the most popular sport in the world to London 2012.