More problems with the ticketing service at the FIFA Women's World Cup "emerged this weekend as the tournament began play, further frustrating fans," according to Jacob Bogage of the WASHINGTON POST. Spectators headed to the France-South Korea opener on Friday at the Parc des Princes in Paris were "emailed new tickets a day earlier that they were required to print out so as to enter the stadium." The email with the subject line "FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019 -- Download your e-tickets!" caused "confusion among fans because tickets became available for download last month." Some fans "waited up to two hours in snaking lines at the box office, then encountered more turbulence inside as ushers were uncertain where fans should sit based on the duplicate certificates." When fans "couldn't enter the stadium and needed the help of box office workers, event staff outside the stadium did not know where to send them for help" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/9).
POOR FIRST IMPRESSION: In London, Louise Taylor notes the "main thing missing" from yesterday's England-Scotland match was the fans, as attendance of 13,188 meant there were "not so much rows as entire tiers of empty seats" at Allianz Riviera in Nice. It was "disappointing but locals felt aggrieved at all tickets having to be purchased by credit card via FIFA's approved website." With "no option to purchase seats from the stadium box office and the local gendarmerie extremely nervous about a terrorist attack, it is perhaps no surprise so many stayed away" (London GUARDIAN, 6/10). Also in London, Harriet Marsden writes "barely any music, lights or fanfare accompanied the countdown to kick-off" for England-Scotland. Marsden: "I've seen more pizzazz at a children's birthday party." Other journalists at the game said that they had "struggled to capture any visual evidence of atmosphere or crowds." Walking into the stadium was "something of a ghost town" (THETIMES.co.uk, 6/10).
MISSING THE MARK: In DC, Liz Clarke noted "Dare to Shine," the official slogan for the Women's World Cup that is trademarked by FIFA, is "splashed in large, cheerful letters on the royal-blue banners ringing Parc des Princes." However, "each word except 'to' is patronizing to the 24 teams and 552 women who will battle over the next four weeks." The slogan "fails to capture what the world's best soccer players actually will do over the next month." They are "athletes to their core." Clarke: "Sadly, FIFA has never embraced the brutal, brilliant athleticism of women's soccer -- much less celebrated or adequately rewarded it." A slogan that reduces the tournament to a "Hallmark greeting card sends a message both tired and tin-eared" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/8).
French Open officials "asked employees to fill empty corporate seats" on Saturday for the conclusion of the Dominic Thiem-Novak Djokovic men's semifinal and the Ash Barty-Marketa Vondrousova women's final, according to Julien Pretot of REUTERS. The seat fillers were told to "stay 'discreet' and take off their accreditation once seated." Seats and boxes reserved for officials and sponsors at Court Philippe Chatrier, the tournament's main stadium, "are often empty ... around lunchtime." That was on display Friday for the Rafael Nadal-Roger Federer semifinal. French Open execs indicated that they were "considering implementing an 'overbooking' system similar to airlines and hotels to make sure that seats are occupied" (REUTERS, 6/9). SI.com's Jon Wertheim noted the vacant seats in the big stadiums "makes for brutal ... optics." The "real pity is that it’s such an inaccurate reflection of the event." The Roland Garros walkways are "akin to Times Square on New Year’s Eve." Meanwhile, Wertheim wrote the recent renovations and enhancements to the tournament were done "without losing charm." Court Simonne Mathieu is like a "dignified venue popped up in the middle of a botanical garden, brimming with character and creativity." The four tennis majors have "quite a rivalry going, pushing each other and forcing innovation and investment." Wertheim: "Just [from] when it looked like Roland Garros -- owing to small acreage, Parisian bureaucracy and the absence of a covered court -- was falling behind a bit, it’s really surged" (SI.com, 6/9).
LET THERE BE LIGHTS: The AP reported lights will be installed on the four top show courts for next year's French Open and all courts the year after, "putting an end to matches being suspended due to darkness." Organizers said that a "retractable roof will be functioning over the 15,000-seat Chatrier stadium for next year's tournament." However, night sessions "won't be scheduled" until '21. French Tennis Federation President Bernard Giudicelli said that the tournament "will not follow in the tradition of the U.S. Open and Australian Open, where matches sometimes end in the early-morning hours" (AP, 6/9).