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Page last updated at 16:13 GMT, Monday, 5 July 2010 17:13 UK

World Cup in South Africa is a success - Sepp Blatter

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (centre) watched Germany beat Argentina 4-0
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (centre) watched Germany beat Argentina 4-0

Fifa president Sepp Blatter has said the World Cup in South Africa can already be rated a success.

The first finals to be held on African soil have now reached the last-four stage and Blatter believes the doubters have been proved wrong.

Critics had predicted that fans would be deterred by high travel costs and the high crime rate in the country.

But Blatter said: "More than 500,000 fans will have come to south Africa and the figure may be even higher."

Fifa themselves admitted earlier this year that ticket sales had not gone as well as they had hoped - and empty seats have been in evidence at many of the matches.

HackneyWolvuvuzelas No 58

Blatter, though, insisted he is delighted by the attendances, and also by the number of statesmen among the crowds.

Former United States President Bill Clinton and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are among those to have attended matches.

"The forecast from 'old Europe' was the fans wouldn't come - well here they are," added Blatter.

"I am a very happy president today and I hope I will be happy until the very end of this week.

"There is a political dimension to football too - how many heads of states have come to visit South Africa, and they all want to make sure they have the pictures taken in the stands. That's the power of football.

"Football gives emotions in this deranged world. Look at the news and you see the world appears to have suddenly stopped and the TV cameras will after 12 July be used everywhere else in the world.

"We are giving hope to the world that perhaps through football we can become better human beings."

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see also
Monday's World Cup round-up
05 Jul 10 |  World Cup 2010
Blatter blasts World Cup critics
11 Feb 10 |  African
Team tracker and Predictor
27 May 10 |  World Cup 2010
World Cup venues
05 Dec 09 |  World Cup 2010

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