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Page last updated at 12:20 GMT, Friday, 23 April 2010 13:20 UK

Fifa predicts full World Cup stadiums in South Africa

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Fifa predicts '95% full' stadia at World Cup

Fifa secretary-general Jerome Valcke has cast aside concerns over empty seats at the World Cup by claiming that stadiums will be at least 95% full.

Over-the-counter sales in South Africa started on 14 April and more than 200,000 tickets have been bought.

"We are working on a number of additional programmes," said Valcke, who added that none of the 300,000 unsold tickets would be given away.

Valcke expects 360,000 foreign visitors in South Africa during the tournament.

The secretary-general, speaking at a press briefing in Switzerland, admitted that "we have to work on our ticketing" after disappointing initial sales ahead of the first African World Cup, which starts on 11 June.

Organisers have admitted the initial reliance on internet sales was not the most "friendly" system for local fans.

Demand from visiting fans has been lower than originally anticipated, with a significant number of tickets being returned, including those from corporate sponsors.

606: DEBATE

The effects of the global recession have been partly to blame, while fears of crime have also contributed to the relative lack of travelling supporters.

But BBC sports editor David Bond said: "Fifa are now so confident about the World Cup that they are confident that the tournament could be staged tomorrow.

"But it still finds itself fending off difficult questions about security, low visitor numbers and ticketing mistakes.

"In his last press brief before the World Cup, Fifa president Sepp Blatter said he felt like an actor about to take to the stage."

"He added he was sure that South Africa would not let the world down."

Meanwhile, Blatter is hopeful that former South Africa president Nelson Mandela, 91, will be well enough attend fixtures at the tournament.

"We cross fingers that Nelson Mandela can realise this dream," said Blatter.

"And his dream would be to be at the opening of the World Cup. For the time being, he is doing well and we hope that he can do it."

Blatter expressed his hope that an African team would enjoy a successful World Cup on the field but question the wisdom of changing a nation switching coach so close to a major tournament.

I'm waiting for an African team to get to the semi-final of the World Cup.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter

South Africa appointed Carlos Alberto Parreira last October, Lars Lagerback took over at Nigeria in February and Ivory Coast replaced Bosnian Vahid Halilhodzic with Sven-Goran Eriksson last month.

"The talent of African players is at least as great as that of players from other countries, including Brazil and the Americas," said the Fifa president.

"They have got more in terms of individual talent. It is as if they are dancing or playing at acrobatics.

"What is missing is tactics, but how can they have this if they change the coach just a few months before the start of the biggest competition in the world?

"This continuity is missing because it is so important to feel the soul of the country where you are coaching, and how can you do this in a few months?

"The African teams have always been good competitors at the Club World championship and I'm waiting for an African team to get to the semi-final of the World Cup.



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see also
Eager fans snap up 2010 tickets
16 Apr 10 |  World Cup 2010
Fifa urges SA fans to buy tickets
09 Apr 10 |  World Cup 2010
SA2010 final tickets go on sale
14 Apr 10 |  African
England fans in Cup tickets push
25 Jan 10 |  World Cup 2010
World Cup map
05 Dec 09 |  World Cup 2010
Guide to the teams at South Africa 2010
05 Dec 09 |  World Cup 2010
England enjoy kind World Cup draw
04 Dec 09 |  World Cup 2010
South Africa ready for Cup - Fifa
02 Mar 10 |  World Cup 2010


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