Despite glitch, World Cup ticket sales begin in S. Korea and Japan

SEOUL, South Korea, AP

Just as ticket applications went out for the 2002 World Cup soccer tournament Thursday, organizers said fans in co-hosts South Korea and Japan would have to wait to place orders online due to a computer glitch. The world’s soccer governing body, FIFA, early Thursday began taking applications for 2002 World Cup tickets but it said Internet bids in the two host countries would be delayed by at least two days because of computer problems. FIFA said the technical problem was restricted only to South Korea and Japan and would not affect fans in other countries. It also said the error would not disadvantage fans in the two Asian co-hosts because they still can request tickets on paper. “We wanted everything to be perfect in the ticket sales. It’s regretful that there appears to be a hole in the preparations,” said Moon Dong-hoo, secretary-general of the Korean World Cup Organizing Committee. In a letter faxed to South Korea and Japan overnight, FIFA said a computer database had “crashed,” barring fans in the Asian co-hosts from access at designated Web sites to apply for tickets, according to South Korean organizers. Ko Yamaguchi, spokesman for the Japanese World Cup Organizing Committee, said the FIFA fax came just an hour before his organization was scheduled to launch its Internet ticket offer. “It was very sudden information,” Yamaguchi said. He said, however, that the problem will be resolved “quickly.” South Korean organizers began accepting applications for tickets on paper after a brief ceremony at a local bank branch office in central Seoul. About 20 soccer officials, including Peter Velappan, secretary-general of the Asia Football Confederation, were on hand with a smattering of soccer fans. Japan on Thursday also began accepting ticket applications from domestic fans. Such forms will be accepted until April 30 and will then be entered into a random-draw process. Fans chosen at that point will be able to purchase tickets. “The number of applications is expected to exceed by far the number of tickets available, so we’ll do our best to ensure fairness in selling,” said Chung Mong-joon, co-chairman of the Korea World Cup Organizing Committee. Chung was among the first group of some dozen people who filled in applications for the maximum 16 tickets allowed per person. South Korean organizers said it was too early to gauge the extent of fans’ complaints about the online problems. South Korea and Japan will host 32 matches each, for which 3 million tickets will be available. A combined 1.3 million tickets will be sold domestically in the co-host countries, and 1.5 million internationally.

Another 200,000 will go to FIFA officials, media and observers. South Korea is allowed to sell 740,000 tickets domestically. Ticket prices sold in South Korea range from US$60 to US$500.