World Cup organisers launch final ticket drive

Fri Apr 9, 2010 5:02pm GMT

By Xola Potelwa

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - World Cup organisers launched a drive on Friday to persuade South Africans to buy up 500,000 unsold match tickets, after European demand for the soccer spectacular fell short of expectations.

Fears of crime and high costs have sapped demand in several European countries, especially Germany, and organisers said a "significant number" of tickets had been returned, including by corporate sponsors.

They could not give details but said the fifth and final ticket phase would be launched on April 15, spearheaded for the first time by over-the-counter sales in South Africa via 11 new centres in the nine match cities.

"We want to make sure the picture we give to the world is full stadiums...that is why this phase is so important," said FIFA Secretary-General Jerome Valcke.

Valcke acknowledged that organisers had been slow to adjust to South African soccer culture where the mass of poor black supporters do not have access to the Internet and are accustomed to buying tickets just before a game.

"The approach at the beginning was not the most friendly system for South Africa and South Africans. But there is always time to learn -- 62 days (before the tournament) is a long period," Valcke said.

"We have always said that it is important that we make this World Cup more accessible to the (South African) people and with the over-the-counter sales, we believe this is a measure that is consistent with the needs of the fans," said chief local organiser Danny Jordaan.

Tickets are still available for all matches except the final and more than 100,000 of them will be available to South Africans for $20, the lowest World Cup price for many years.   Continued...

<p>Zakumi, the FIFA World Cup 2010 official mascot, poses before the CONCACAF qualifier soccer match between Mexico and the U.S. for the South Africa 2010 World Cup at the Azteca stadium in Mexico City August 12, 2009. REUTERS/Henry Romero</p>
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