FIFA acts to prevent empty seats at 2014 World Cup

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LONDON (AP) - FIFA will try to minimize the number of empty seats at the 2014 World Cup by taking measures to ensure sponsors use their allocation or lose them.

There were large blocks of empty seats at some stadiums at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and this year's European Championship in Poland and Ukraine.

At the Leaders in Football conference on Wednesday, FIFA marketing director Thierry Weil said sponsors would have to name the people using tickets two or three days before matches in Brazil.

"They cannot just say the people will come and then nobody comes," Weil said. "The tickets will only be handed over the day of the game to the people, so you can reallocate tickets to different people, even in the sponsor families."

That was a major issue at the London Olympics, where there was public outrage when fans couldn't get into venues despite corporate seats initially being empty.

"We are concerned by no-shows, that is clear because it does not look good," Weil said. "And it especially does not look good if you announce to the world that you have no tickets, then you see on TV that you have a lot of empty seats."

Ticket prices for the World Cup will be announced next month. A system will be tried at the Confederations Cup in June when Weil says Brazil will show it is ready to stage the World Cup.

"At certain stages, there will be some wake-up calls," he said. "At certain stages, there will be some delays. At certain stages, there will be negative things from different people. But Brazil will be ready."

Former Brazil striker Ronaldo tried to assure the conference members in London.

"The organization of course has to be perfect - we guarantee it will be perfect," Ronaldo, who works for the organizing committee, said through a translator. "As for the sporting side, there will be no guarantees there."

But Ronaldo hopes playing at home will help the team deliver Brazil's sixth world title.

"This will be added incentive. It will be motivation. I think it will have a positive impact," he said. "Otherwise, I will be playing again."

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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