FAO chief John Delaney has promised soccer fans that he will “make up” to them following a ticketing fiasco at Aviva Stadium.
Hundreds of eager soccer fans had been told that their tickets for the Argentina game had been posted, but received a last minute phone call to inform them that they’d instead have to collect them in person.
Some fans said yesterday they were sent to two different hotels near Lansdowne Road while others gave up queuing and bought more tickets instead from official ticket vans.
The game had to be delayed by fifteen minutes as a result of the crisis as there were thousands of visibly empty seats at the scheduled kick off time.
There’s been widespread criticism of the FAI as a result of the event, which put a dent on the first international soccer game to take place at the stadium which ended in a 0-1 defeat for the Boys in Green.
The soccer chief, who’s currently taking home €430,000 a year, defended the fact that the stadium was under-capacity on what should have been a momentous and sell-out occasion for soccer in Ireland.
Slightly under 46,000 turned up to see the game - the capacity of the new stadium is 50,000. Despite this, Delaney told the press that there had been "a great turnout" and blamed the empty seats on the recession.
Although fans were impressed by the glitzy new stadium, the most modern of its kind ever built in Ireland, there was criticism of the price of food and beverages at the match.
Burgers cost between €6.50 and €7.50 each ($8.29 - $9.57) each. One spectator remarked that the prices “compared unfavorably” to the cheaper fare available at McDonalds, and the price is almost without precedence at major Irish sporting fixtures, where burgers typically sell for as little as €3 ($3.82) on major match days.
Not wanting to be one-upped by the punters, however, a spokesperson for the new stadium leapt to the defence of the costly burgers, explaining that they were: "Gourmet burgers, 100 percent made from Irish beef sourced locally, as indeed are the other ingredients of cheese, bacon and relish.”
One dissatisfied fan told Irish daily the Irish Independent how she had to fork out €45 ($57) to feed himself and his two young children. “I’m sickened,” he told the newspaper.
It wasn’t all negativity, though. One ecstatic fan spoke who traveled from Cork for the occasion said that it was a “new era” for Ireland to have a stadium of such high caliber.