Remember all the cynical old fuss about football and the Olympic Games? Or, at least, cynical and grumpy initially among the British media which maintained, by and large, a pre-Games message that the greatest game had no place at London 2012?
As this writer pointed out in various places and publications at various times, football is the oldest team sport in the Olympics and thus holds a historic role in the development of the Games.
Also, of course, take football away and the Olympics is reduced to a by-the-way rump of “all the other sports” which would not be good for the Games’ image or, even more important for both the International Olympic Committee and its sports federations, for sponsorship values and revenues.
The significance of football has been underscored by the official report on ticketing which revealed how this was one less-than-perfect sphere of an outstanding sporting show.
That 976-page report sets out, starkly, the gross number of tickets available to the ‘Olympic family’ compared with the relatively few available to the paying public for the most popular events.
* Danny Boyle’s iconic opening ceremony – one of the most in-demand tickets of the fortnight – was watched by a crowd in which only 44pc accounted for public sales while 66pc went to the so-called ‘Olympic family’;
* Only 43pc of tickets went to the public on the day in the velodrome when Sir Chris Hoy, Jason Kenny, Phillip Hindes won the men’s sprint final;
* Novak Djokovic’s opening Olympic match on Centre Court at Wimbledon, saw 97pc of the available seats go to Olympic members and federations;
* Only 285 – or two per cent – of 14,122 Park-only tickets during the second week went to ordinary fans.
The overall stats show that 10.99m tickets were sold out of a total 11.3m available and that 8.21m of those tickets were Olympics tickets and 2.78m were for the Paralympics.
Some 319,000 tickets (263,000 Olympic and 55,000 Paralympic) were unsold, the majority of these being for the early rounds for Olympic football.
However . . . 1.9m football tickets were sold which made London 2012 not only the biggest football tournament ever seen in Britain but represented just over one quarter of ALL the Olympic tickets.
All told, 1,874,854 were sold of which 1,703,636 were bought by British fans. By contrast athletics – always considered the high-profile core of the Games in the main stadium – sold 944,345 tickets of which ‘only’ 644,915 went to home spectators.
Conclusion: football is the people’s sport . . . and the Olympic Games only proved the fact, whatever the nay-sayers tried to pretend.
Do not expect any such negativity about Olympic football in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 . . .
THIS WEEK’S ARTICLES:
PROZONE: CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES – EVALUATING STARTEGIES FOR MID-SEASON RECRUITMENT
ROGAN TAYLOR: NEW YEAR REVOLUTIONS
DELROY ALEXANDER: TIME FOR GOVERNMENT TO INTERVENE
ROGAN TAYLOR: THE BIRTHDAY PARTY’S STARTED EARLY
Keir Radnedge is one of the foremost observers of international soccer. He has reported at every World Cup since 1966 and is a regular contributor to TV, radio, newspapers and magazines worldwide. He is editor of KeirRadnedge.com and is chairman of the Football Commission of the International Sports Press Association (AIPS). Visit www.KeirRadnedge.com for further information. Follow him on Twitter for more sports industry updates.
The views of our regular columnists are independent, and as such do not represent those of Leaders in Football.