The day I missed a World Cup final

Golden opportunity missed as ticket for Spain v Netherlands at Soccer City comes tantalisingly within grasp.

    I thought I'd passed up the chance of a lifetime.

    A couple of hours before the World Cup final kicked off, I was offered a ticket right outside the gates of Soccer City. At face value.

    No tidy profit for the tout, just a Fifa-endorsed price tag and a chance to say, "I was there".

    Praise be that I wasn't. Now I get the chance to spend the cash on something nice.

    At the time I was fuming with myself for not bringing enough money with me on my quest for a ticket.

    Now I feel it was God's way of saying, "Paul, this will be a pretty awful match to be honest. And you will be punished for adopting Netherlands as your second team after England went out by seeing them robbed by an English referee."

    I'll say it once and then I'll shut up.

    If Howard Webb had given the Netherlands the corner they should have had from Wesley Sneijder's deflected free kick, Andres Iniesta would never have scored his winning goal a minute later.

    Especially not if play had restarted because the Netherlands scored from the corner they should have had.

    But no-one really wants to hear this, so congratulations to an excellent Spain team.

    I had gone to Soccer City early on Sunday because I just had to try and get a ticket to a World Cup final.

    It turned out to be a pretty depressing experience. I was on my way to draw cash out, but turned around when the only offers I had were for upwards of $1,500.

    As I headed off to watch the final at home, suddenly a Dutchman sprung out at me and said I could have his ticket for $600.

    When all I could offer him was 100 Rand, my iPhone and my camera, he moved on to more promising customers.

    I then went and got the cash out, only to join an increasingly mournful crowd staring at the stadium and not being offered any tickets by anyone. I got home to my TV in Johannesburg with 20 minutes of the match played.

    Football is a lottery. And this time I won big.

    Even World Cup finals can be bad.

    I'll remember that next time I think $600 is a good price for a football match.


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