JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa was the latest African Cup of Nations host to face the challenge of filling stadiums with the continent's generally poor football fans as tickets for next year's tournament went on sale on Wednesday.
In an attempt to reverse a trend of poor crowds at recent African championships, 2013 organizers kept tickets relatively cheap and easily available having already opted for smaller stadiums to give them a better chance of sellouts.
The last African Cup in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea was hurt by images of empty seats at some games, especially when the home teams weren't playing.
Tickets for South Africa range from the cheapest at $6 up to $24 for the most expensive seats at the final. Supporters could watch the semifinals and final for around $12 for each game and organizers also offered additional discounts of up to 20 percent to fans who buy early for the matches next January and February.
"The ticket pricing strategy was reached looking at the economy of the country and the levels of unemployment, people's disposable income as well as the time that the tournament is taking place," organizing committee chief executive Mvuzo Mbebe said.
There are also worries that the Jan. 19-Feb. 10 tournament could come too soon after the expensive holiday season.
But South Africa still hopes to sell 500,000 tickets for the 32 matches at the 16-team tournament, relying on the combination of affordable prices and easy access while, crucially, hoping to revive the excitement generated by the country's staging of the World Cup two years ago.