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Charlie Webster - UEFA ticket prices go against everything special about football

Published: 18 Feb 2011 - 13:45:13

I landed back from South Africa yesterday morning having had such an amazing adventure. It's not just the natural beauty of the country but the spirit of the people that makes it such a special place.

I remember visiting last year before the World Cup and thinking what a perfect place it was to hold a tournament full of passion and spirit. That is what I love so much about football - the fact that you can go anywhere in the world and find people that love for the game just as much as you do.

In a car park in a rundown neighbourhood, the car park attendant wore an old Liverpool shirt. I chatted away to him about the return of Kenny Dalglish and their new found run of form. Despite his broken English he knew everything about his team.

He asked me what team I supported and it made me laugh that he knew how badly Sheffield United were performing. This by the way is a man earning his living watching cars and whose home is in the cramped conditions of a township.

Two street kids I got to know who wandered around begging for food along the beach eventually started a conversation with me after I gave them something to eat. They didn't want to talk to me about their situation or how much suffering they were going through but what they did want to talk to me about was football. It was as if the beautiful game is their hope, their escape and something they can believe in.

My local friends filled me in about the most anticipated derby in South Africa - Orlando Pirates v Kaizer Chiefs. They were desperately trying to get me to stay longer so I could go and see the game. Ticket prices for the game range between R40 and R150, the equivalent of £3.40 - £12.80.

So as I said, I land back in England, the home of football and the place where the game of the everyman originally spread from. Feeling elated and inspired after my visit to South Africa, I pick up a newspaper and start reading about the scandalous ticket prices released for the Champions League Final.

That evening I head into Sky Sports to present on Sky Sports News. It was great to be back but I immediately started to go through the story and the comparison between ticket prices at Wembley.

I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw there is an administration fee of £26 for each ticket. Exactly who does that go to? Because I fail to see how much administrating goes on with a bunch of tickets for it to cost that much. Hand delivered maybe?

Four tickets in the cheapest category will cost £652. It's almost laughable. It frustrates me when all over the world there is such a passion, love and belief in football no matter where you are from or how much money you have. However if you want to go to Wembley and experience the incredible feeling of a Champions League final you have to have money. A lot of money.

I feel sad that football is moving further and further away from where it all began with its fans. What does it stand for now? Where is the inspiration that it gives to the younger generation? Yet another barrier appears.

I vented my disappointment to a colleague at Sky last night and he was so right when he turned around to me and said that people will still buy them. I don't know about you but wouldn't you call that exploitation of a person's love and passion?

Pele once said:  "Every kid around the world who plays soccer wants to be Pele. I have a great responsibility to show them not just how to be like a soccer player, but how to be like a man."

The influence that the players have globally is incredible, it goes way beyond just kicking a ball. The responsibility that UEFA and other football governing bodies have to every fan is just as important.

Follow me on Twitter @CharlieCW
DSG


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FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:Charlie Webster
Charlie Webster is one of the brightest young female sports presenters around. Charlie currently reports for BBC’s Football Focus and is an established presenter for Sky Sports. Prior to this she presented live Premiership football for ESPN in Asia, and was the face of Real Madrid TV, interviewing the likes of Zidane, Beckham and Casillas. Charlie’s love for sport has taken her all across the world. She ran her first marathon in Singapore in 2006, and since then has competed in five more, raising thousands of pounds for good causes including the Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research and Women’s Aid UK. A fanatical Sheffield United fan, Charlie’s blog will present an insight into football that is rarely explored; from a woman’s perspective! She will be giving her expert opinion on the Premier League, covering all topics on and off the pitch. Follow Charlie on Twitter @CharlieCW.

You can visit Charlie's website at: www.charliewebster.com

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