Zebras supporters again had to dig deeper into their pockets as ticket prices for the Zebras remaining matches stayed ridiculously high, despite the national team having no mathematical chance of qualifying for the FIFA 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The team played to a relatively empty stadium against Ethiopia in Lobatse last weekend owing, partly, to the exorbitant ticket prices.
“It is mid-month and people do not have money, so these guys should make prices affordable such that if people cannot go to Lobatse at least Lobatse residents themselves can be able to afford the tickets. We need more supporters at the stadium not gate takings,” says Kabelo Baeti, a Zebras supporter residing in Gaborone.
Ticket prices for this weekend’s game against the Central African Republic (CAR) were set at an incredible P100 for Grand Stand and P50 elsewhere.
“It is pre-planned. The pricing had long been planned before we knew the team would be knocked out of the tournament and our decisions for ticket pricing are based on various factors like the ranking of our opposition, costs of logistics and the status of the tournament,” BFA president, Tebogo Sebego, explained.
Sebego says he does believe that in future, ticket prices may have to be revised. He says there were times when they took the supporters’ needs into consideration “like the time we let schools in free of charge during a national team game at the Lobatse stadium”.
He says they do not consider the capacity of the stadium when setting ticket prices. BFA’s Marketing and Communications Officer Phakamile Kraai attributed the poor attendance at Lobatse Stadium to distance.
“Some people say Lobatse is too far,” he says.
Kraai says to help reduce the cost for the game against Central African Republic they had a “special” where anyone who bought two tickets for the Ethiopia game would pay half for the CAR game. “Prices are made based on the cost of logistics and accommodation for the visitors,” Kraai echoed Sebego’s explanation for the high ticket prices.
The Zebras head coach, Stanley Tshosane, stopped short of saying BFA’s pricing might be too high in comparison with neighbouring countries like South Africa. “Football tickets in our neighbouring countries are very cheap,” he says. But the national coach also attributes the poor attendance to the team’s less than impressive showing over the last few games and the distance.
“It also seems most people who attend our games are from Gaborone which explains the poor attendance of games played outside the city,” Tshosane says. But whatever the reasons, the Botswana Football Association will have to appreciate the significant role played by supporters in the national teams’ performance and come up with ways to lure more fans to the stadiums, even if it means drastically cutting ticket prices.