Wednesday, July 7
Here follows the attempts by a ticketless football fan - let's call him 'Dave' - to find a ticket for the 2010 semi final in Durban:
The first 'sniff' of a ticket is in an Internet cafe, just off Durban beach front. Dave overhears a conversation in Spanish and asks the gentleman sitting next to him:
"tiene usted un billete?"
Dave tracks down his friend - let's call him 'Blackpool' - and asks him if he's up for paying 600?
"No, I reckon i'll be able to get in for 100 Rand"
Undeterred, Dave tracks down the Argentinian gentleman and his three friends, who are walking around the FanFest looking for potential buyers.
"Can I just buy one ticket off you? Is 400 OK?"
"Yes, you can have one but my lowest price is 500."
World Cup semi for 45 pounds, Dave thinks. Can't be bad...
Under the shadow of a Durban seafront apartment block, military helicopters hovering overhead, Dave begins to count out his money in front of the four Argies.
"Three, four, f..."
"Why are you counting rand? Where are your dollars?"
"Sorry? You said 500, didn't you?"
"Yes. Five hundred dollars"
Silly misunderstanding out of the way Dave heads off along the beachfront towards the casino. There's a submarine out at sea and more police and army than there are fans. Every hotel and apartment block appears to have at least 3 or 4 police out front. Meanwhile, four helicopters are patrolling the airspace above the football stadium and the nearby sea as if they are searching for would-be terrorists. It is 7/7 - are they expecting trouble?
At the casino there are no tickets. Outside the adjacent ticketing office Dave gets chatting to a German couple:
"We came to South Africa with no tickets but we have got into all the Germany matches. The most we have paid is 400 rand. You just have to stay patient."
Moments later, a thirty-something Afrikaner ticket tout, who looks like a young Arnold Schwarzenegger is over
"You looking for tickets?"
"Yes, but yours are going to be too expensive for me my friend."
"Well, how much are you looking for?"
"Don't waste my fookin time"
"I told you not to waste your time."
"Fookin #### (etc.) "
Dave knows that a fight with Arnold wouldn't last more than two seconds, but so incensed is he by South Africa's rudest man that he can't help abusing him back. Luckily for Dave, most of this is drowned out by the whir of another helicopter flypast.
It is still 90 minutes to kick off, but Dave fancies his chances are better down outside the stadium.
Having narrowly avoided certain death at the fists of South Africa's rudest man, Dave soon meets the country's rudest woman - A coked-up white girl wearing a 'Ballack' German top. After initially offering her spare ticket to the ticketless for free, she prefers to tease people, abuse them and then walk into the stadium, chosing to pointlessly keep it rather than give it to somebody for a few hundred rand.
Dave has had just about enough. If he sticks around much longer, he might get into a fight - what are the odds on meeting the biggest two idiots in South Africa in the space of half an hour?
"Hello Sir. Are you trying to buy a ticket?"
Uh, oh. These two very smartly dressed black gentlemen look suspiciously like police officers. Better play dumb.
"Oh, no, I am not trying to buy a ticket. I am just hoping somebody will give me a ticket for free."
They can't arrest me for that, Dave thinks.
"OK, come on then. Let's go."
"Sorry, how do you mean? Go where?"
"Into the stadium."
"Sorry, I don't understand."
"Here - I have an extra ticket. You can have it."
"But I can't buy it."
"Yes, I know. I want you to have it." "Steward - is it OK if I take this gentleman into the stadium with my spare ticket? Our friend couldn't come."
The steward nods and with that Dave is inside the cordon. He has got into the semi-final of the world cup for free. Face value of the ticket? 600 dollars.
Dave hugs his two new friends and tells them he will never forget this wonderful gesture. The three of them then take their category 1 seats in row 1 of South Africa's best football stadium for Germany v Spain.
I can't believe it, Dave thinks. Unbelievable.