Will Afcon 2013 be a damp squib?

Will South African fans embrace the coming African Cup of Nations?

As South Africa readies itself for the 2013 African Cup of Nations, a question doing the rounds within the circles of those that care is whether or not the Rainbow Nation will embrace the tournament as they did the 1996 edition and 2010 World Cup?

The simple answer is no.

The local organising committee (LOC) have targeted ticket sales of 500,000 before the tournament begins but at this moment they have sold less than 90,000 tickets to local fans, while approximately 220,000 tickets have been sold to other African countries. While the ticket-sales within Africa itself look rather good, without local support, this tournament is destined to be another Gabon-Equatorial Guinea effort, where turn out last year was abysmal.

From a publicity point of view, there hasn’t been much, if anything at all, within Johannesburg. While I can’t speak for the other host cities, it seems the only major marketing taking place is on SuperSport, the giant South African sports broadcaster, and the media wondering whether there has been any marketing.

However, that does nothing for the LOC, who want people in the stadiums and not on their couches at home. And amid all this, the South African Football Association are embroiled in a match fixing scandal regarding games played before the 2010 World Cup, with the officials reportedly involved (five in all) having now been reinstated after being placed on “special leave”.

SAFA have vowed to not sweep the matter  under the carpet. I wouldn’t hold your breadth.

However, from a facilities and infrastructure perspective, South African is by far the best equipped country in Africa to host a tournament like this. There will be small problems I imagine, from ticketing to parking to scams to traffic, but the major concern is how South African fans march with their feet.