[EDITORIALS]That's not the ticket

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[EDITORIALS]That's not the ticket

As the old saying goes, the devil goes where the good fortune goes. The image of the largest World Cup soccer festival is being damaged by many unoccupied seats. According to calculations made by the World Cup organizing committees of Japan and Korea, 92,000 seats were left unoccupied from the opening day last Friday through Sunday. For a match between South Korea and Poland, once said to have been a sellout, some 3,000 seats have wound up unsold. To buy the leftover tickets, thousands of fans lined up outside a Busan ticket office, spending the night on the street.

The damage, direct or indirect, caused by the unoccupied seats is enormous. First of all, the revenue from ticket sales dwindles, leaving a deficit to the host country's balance sheet. Following government calculations, it is estimated that the deficit per match will amount to 1 billion won ($820,000). If situations like this continue, revenue from ticket sales will be far less than the 210 billion won estimated by the organizing committee. The damage to the image of the host countries and the ensuing national losses will be incalculable.

Soccer fans who see so many seats left unoccupied in a World Cup match will never think of the tournament as being successful. For our part, we can no longer expect to reap the results of investing more than 2 trillion won in the past six years despite the economic hardships we suffered from the foreign exchange crisis of 1997-98.

It is reported that Byrom, the agency entrusted by FIFA to manage the ticket sales, is responsible for so many empty seats. The agency, which took over the sales of 50 percent of tickets, failed badly in its sales promotions. Moreover, Byrom failed to return unsold tickets to host countries so that these tickets could be sold on the spot. Korea and Japan should make Byrom and FIFA accountable for the damages caused by unsold tickets, including current damages and those expected in the future. The responsibility of the organizing committees of both countries should also be clarified. But most urgent is tracing all the unsold tickets and then arranging for their sale. With World Cup fever in Korea and Japan rising, selling leftover tickets should not be difficult.
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