(WFI) London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe tells World Football INSIDER he is confident of filling football venues at this summer’s Games – even though there are still 1.5 million tickets still to sell.
Coe was speaking to ATR at the official draw for the Olympic Football tournament at Wembley Stadium Tuesday, the 90,000-seat home of English football which will host the gold medal finals in the men’s and women’s competitions.
Asked whether he believed LOCOG would sell the remaining football tickets when they go on sale early next month, LOCOG’s leader said he was “very confident” and that today’s draw would spur sales.
“The fans and the players and the teams now know where they’re going to be performing and where they’re going to be watching the events so that has to help,” he told INSIDER.
“We’ve already sold over a million tickets; we’ve sold more tickets for football than any other sport. So there’s a massive appetite out there for it and I think over the next few weeks and months now that we know which groups are playing where, I think that will help.”
Coe also confirmed that even if there were still tickets available on the day, that every football venue would have a box office where people could buy tickets right up until kick-off.
Today’s draw was conducted by FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke and featured guests from the footballing world such as Brazilian World Cup winner Ronaldo, England women’s striker Kelly Smith and former England striker-turned BBC sports presenter Gary Lineker.
Also present was acting Asian Football Confederation president Zhang Jilong who was sporting director at the Beijing Games in 2008 and chair’s FIFA’s organising committee for the Olympic football competitions.
Addressing Jilong and the assembled guests, Coe said he hoped the football tournament would help drive enthusiasm for the Games around the U.K.
“This is a unique opportunity for the U.K. to share in the Olympic Games. It’s unique to share in the spirit of the Games and simply for people to say I was there. I’m delighted this football tournament will play such an important role in our Games.”
Coe also told INSIDER that school groups and members of the armed forces would be allocated football tickets through LOCOG’s ‘Ticketshare’ scheme.
“We have our ‘Ticketshare’ programme which is out there and running which includes football tickets of course – and that’s been well established,” he said.
The first match of the tournament – and also first action of the Olympics – will be Great Britain against New Zealand in the 12-team women’s competition. It takes place at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on July 25 – two days before the opening ceremony.
On July 26, Team GB’s men’s team take on Senegal at Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium. The African side were the last of the 16 men’s teams to qualify for the Games after beating Oman 2-0 last night at the City of Coventry Stadium.
The Full Olympics Football Draw is:
Group A – Great Britain, Uruguay, UAE, Senegal
Group B – Mexico, Switzerland,
Korea Republic, Gabon
Group C – Brazil, Belarus, New Zealand, Egypt
Group D – Spain, Honduras, Japan, Morroco
Group E – GB, Cameroon, New Zealand, Brazil
Group F – Japan, Sweden, S.Africa, Canada
Group G – USA, France, Colombia, Korea DPR
GB Coach Pearce Keen on Euro 2012 Role
Team GB men’s football manager Stuart Pearce says it would be no problem for him to also manage England this summer at the UEFA European Championships in Poland and Ukraine.
England have been without a manager since Fabio Capello’s departure in February, and the FA put Pearce in temporary charge of the team soon after.
With Euro 2012 kicking off on June 8, there is a possibility that Pearce could be tasked with coaching the team – a role he says would not “hinder” his managerial preparations for Team GB at London 2012.
“Personally I don’t think it would be difficult,” he said. “The pre-planning is all done for the Euros, whether it be me or the new man it’s all in place.”
“I don’t see that as a problem, as it’s myself I am ready to do so – it would put me in tournament mode as well. In some ways I see it as a benefit and not a hindrance.”
Pearce also confirmed that the selection of the Team GB squad would be made “sometime in mid-May” after the England team for Euro 2012 had been selected.
He did not confirm whether David Beckham would definitely play a part in Team GB’s quest for gold at the Games. “He [Beckham] will be treated as every other individual – form and fitness will dictate what the squad will be. The main proviso is I’ve got a duty of care from GB to win a gold medal – the strongest possible squad for GB will be just that,” he told reporters at Wembley.
By INSIDER’s Christian Radnedge
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