Seen as the World Cup of South America, the 2015 Copa America has already shown big surprises in its opening week – the biggest of which coming from the stands. Read more here . . .
Tonight’s Paraguay v Jamaica fixture was never going to be a blockbuster ticket-seller of a match for the 2015 Copa America in Chile, although the biggest shock was what remained (or didn’t remain) off the pitch.
Playing in front of a close-to-empty stadium, the Paraguayans and Jamaicans battled on the pitch for the full 90 minutes to the near-silent hum of a crowd not fitting of the result before them.
Despite the match including an amateur mistake of a goal that deserved a laugh and applaud, the players in tonight’s game were rewarded with cheers from their own team’s executives and not much more from the few supporters who made it out to the Estadio Regional de Antofagasta.
And this is where the line has been drawn in the sand in terms of Copa America games this year.
Round one group games featuring big-name squads such as the host nation Chile, Argentina, Colombia and Brazil were all met with extraordinary attendances, but now that round two has begun, the numbers aren’t stacking up in favour of the tournament.
Take last night’s Ecuador/Bolivia fixture in the Estadio Elías Figueroa Brander for example. With a total capacity of 20575, a mere 5982 supporters made it out to cheer on their selective team in the cold and wind.
And the numbers don’t stop there.
Saturday’s Uruguay/Jamaica fixture only managed to draw 8653 supporters out of a total capacity of 21178 in the Estadio Regional de Antofagasta.
With the reigning Copa America champions not being able to draw an impressive crowd for their opening match, the question begging to be asked is – Where are all the football-crazed South American fans?
The poor form in attendance is hardly a reflection of the month-long party seen in Brazil for last year’s FIFA World Cup and tickets are surely not the problem.
Despite tickets being sold in earlier sales rounds becoming quite pricey the longer they were available, tickets for any game that doesn’t feature Chile remain available up until the first whistle of each game for a fraction of the price.
And so the gaze has been set onto future matches in the Cup.
Following tonight’s Paraguay/Jamaica fixture is El Clásico del Río de la Plata between Uruguay and Argentina in the 17194-capacity Estadio La Portada in La Serena and the Brazil/Colombia match tomorrow in the 47000-capacity Estadio Monumental David Arellano in Santiago.
With some luck, these matches will draw some considerable crowds due to the draw-card names that each of the above teams have on show.
And if not, then the end of this tournament looks as seemingly bleak as the future of FIFA.