Vera Pauw has hit out at the absent fans that meant last Thursday’s “sold-out” final home women’s World Cup qualifier was missing one in eight ticket purchasers.
Although the penultimate qualifier attracted a record turnout of 6.952, large swathes of multi-coloured seats were vacant for what was dubbed the hottest event in the history of the women’s team.
A game that sold out its 8,000 tickets within an hour in July was pockmarked by an abundance of no-shows, even more regrettable given how thousands were left disappointed not to go. Ireland’s 1-0 victory sealed their first-ever World Cup playoff.
“It is a real shame that people who bought tickets and didn’t show up,” Ireland boss Pauw, an experienced Dutchwoman, said on the eve of their final Group A game in Slovakia on Tuesday.
“There were a series of empty seats and thousands of girls who wanted to come. I think it was (grassroots) teams as there were a series of seats empty.
“My honest feeling is it comes back to the decency of the people who buy the tickets, and that they know there are thousands of girls crying at home. Literally crying at home because they couldn’t go to the stadium. You need to take responsibility when you buy a ticket.”
The FAI is investigating the misstep which became a major talking point on a night of real progress for the senior team.
“The thing is, what do you do?,” wondered Pauw. “Our marketing department is dealing with it. We want it to be accessible for everybody.
“You could make the tickets more expensive but then you put pressure on people who may not have much. You want everyone to be able to attend.”
Another three points tomorrow will fast-track Ireland beyond the semi-final hurdle into the final of the next month’s playoff series which Uefa draw in Nyon on Friday.
Slovakia caused Ireland problems in last November’s 1-1 draw at Tallaght but Pauw was bullish about overcoming the nation ranked beneath them in the pool.
“I’m confident,” she beamed at the picturesque stadium in Senec, situated adjacent to a lake packed with water-sports enthusiasts savouring the early days of autumnal sunshine.
“We’ve had a huge emotional explosion on Thursday and the biggest thing is to get back on the ground and load your emotions up to another fight.
“There is no game won without a fight. That is the biggest task, but we don’t do it with stress.
“We do it more by concentrating on the tasks and work and relax out of that situation – do the things that we have to do very well.
“We also must realise that we’re missing a few players – Megan Connolly, Ruesha [Littlejohn], Niamh Fahey already and Jamie Finn who’s suspended. We need to find a few solutions for that.”
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