Long Term Relationship

Category: By Christian
926 days. That's it. That's all the longer we have to wait for the kick-off of World Cup 2010 in South Africa.

My relationships with previous World Cups have been less than chivalrous. Brief rendezvous that lasted for a month and then were relegated to the back burner. For that, I beg forgiveness.

But more than that, I admit that I have turned over a new leaf. I've been following the international futbol scene hardcore since WC 2006 ended, and I'm proud to announce that WC 2010 and I are doing well in our long term relationship.

While most of America was concerned with football of the American variety (present company included), there were a number of developments on the futbol front. A flurry of announcements came out of South Africa as FIFA held meetings and ceremonies in the country. Among the big events this weekend:

**Preliminary Qualifying Draw: I actually watched this event live on the internet before going to church on Sunday morning. As of Sunday, there were 170 countries that were eligible to qualify for WC2010. I mean, it's not like you just show up at the local rec center and sign your team up for the biggest sporting event in the world. You register with FIFA, and then you are required to play other teams on your continent to earn your way into the field of 32. Each continent has a different qualifying procedure, but all of the delegates gathered in South Africa to find out who they would have to play in order to progress through the qualification process. Things are looking good for The US, not so much for Canada. I really do hope the Canadian's make it, but they are really going to have to kick it into high gear if that is going to be the case.

**Schedule Release: While we don't know who will be in the tournament, we do know when matches will be held in each city. The way it is setting up, it might be a good idea to just camp out in Johannesberg and try to see as many matches there as possible. They have two host stadiums in the city, one of which holds 90,000 people. Plus, it's close to two other cities that are hosting matches.

**Ticket Info: The first phase of ticket sales begins in February of 2009. That's just a little over a year away. Wowza. One of the interesting aspects to ticketing this year is how they are addressing the issue of getting tickets into the hands of South Africans. FIFA is holding back 15% of the ticket inventory (about 450,000 tickets) for sales to South Africans, and they are slashing the lowest price from the $51 they went for in 2006 to $20. The kicker is that only South Africans will be able to purchase the $20 tickets. Of that block of tickets, 120,000 will be given away for free to South Africans. Even though it will make it harder for me to get tickets, I really love the idea. Making the tournament accessible to the hosts in this first World Cup to be played on African soil has got to be a priority. It should make for a fantastic atmosphere, and is a great equalizer.

I gotta admit. All of the announcements and festivities got me pumped. We'll have to see if everything falls into place.

Fair Dinkum

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