World Cup Chairman Alan Rothenberg said Saturday that the problems with first- and second-round tickets mailed this week were minimal.
“We mailed out almost 200,000 accounts--nearly 3 million tickets,” he said. “The number of problems they’ve encountered are well within the limits of what we expected. It’s probably one-half of 1%.”
The Times reported Saturday that there were major problems with tickets, including instances of fans receiving tickets for different cities and seats than they had requested. Additionally, World Cup telephone lines were reportedly clogged with complaints and questions.
Asked to describe the magnitude of the calls to World Cup offices, Rothenberg said his organization had no idea what to expect, so he didn’t know whether the numbers were high or low.
Rothenberg said the majority of the calls have been from fans saying their friends had received tickets and they hadn’t.
As the tickets went out last week, the complaints increased. Some irate fans went to U.S. Soccer Federation offices in Chicago to seek redress.
Officials with the 1996 Atlanta Olympics were among those who reported ticket problems.
Despite announcing Friday that Saturday’s United States-Mexico game was a sellout at 80,000, officials said after the game that it had, indeed, been a sellout, but at 91,000. In fact, the house was so packed that officials advertised the sellout on freeway signs in an attempt to discourage anybody without a ticket from going near the Rose Bowl.
Venue Chief David Simmons said more tickets were sold because fewer seats were eliminated than had been originally estimated by blocking off a press seating area on the West side and blocking off some of the lower-level end-zone seats. Additionally, Rothenberg said about 6,000 tickets had been held back with the knowledge that, even though a sellout had been announced, there would be people coming into Arroyo Seco on game day. According to Simmons, about 500 were in line for tickets by 9 a.m.
Simmons was pleased with how the day went, a prelude to the eight games to be played in Pasadena during the monthlong tournament that starts June 17.
“This was absolutely incredible,” he said. “I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings, but I thought this was the smoothest-run event ever here.”
Presumably, he was not including the operation of the postgame mixed zone, designed to provide media access to players and coaches. The winning U.S. team cooperated well in hot, steamy, confined areas. The losing Mexican team left through a back door without telling anybody.