Page last updated at 09:46 GMT, Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Fifa denies African fans priced out of World Cup

Jerome Valcke: ''It's a way to bring together all the communities''

A senior Fifa official has denied African football fans are being priced out of the World Cup in South Africa.

"It will be a real African World Cup," Jerome Valcke told the BBC. Most stadiums would be sold out, he added.

However, fans in the African countries that have qualified say tickets are being sold on the internet, to which they have limited access.

Furthermore, even if they could afford tickets, few African fans have credit cards, needed for online purchases.

"To sell tickets online is very unrealistic," Cameroonian football fan and librarian Kini Nsom Sylvanus told the BBC's World Today programme.

I can walk through fire for the Lions, so you can imagine the joy in my heart
Kini Nsom Sylvanus
Cameroonian football fan

"Checking my mail is a very difficult thing, let alone going to look for the website of Fifa to apply for a ticket. It is going to block many people.

"I am very unhappy about that."

But he said he was elated Cameroon had qualified for the first World Cup to be held in Africa.

"I can walk through fire for the Lions, so you can imagine the joy in my heart."

The BBC's Randy Joe Sa'ah says that the Cameroonian government usually pays for a small group of official fans to attend international matches but many more fans would like to travel to South Africa.

Mr Valcke said the world's football authority was trying to work with airline companies to offer tickets, so African fans could travel to the showpiece event, which kicks off in 100 days.

He said 2.3 million tickets had been sold, out of a total of 2.9 million.

A spokesperson for South Africa's home affairs department told the BBC that African fans who could prove they had bought tickets would be given special fee-free visas for the World Cup.

But she stressed that the normal requirements, such as proof of finance, vaccination certificates and a return ticket, would also have to be met.

Mr Valcke added that 10 matches were already sold out and extra tickets were being made available for South Africans, at a lower price.

Other African fans, however, will not benefit from these - the cheapest tickets available to them is $80 (£54) per match.

Mr Valcke also said he was confident all the stadiums, pitches and transport facilities would be ready in time.

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