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By ESPN Staff
Jan 27, 2010

FIFA slam negative South Africa stories

FIFA have hit out at the negative publicity that continues to surround the build-up to the World Cup, but expressed satisfaction over the growing demand for tickets.

The world governing body today announced that two thirds of the three million tickets were now sold - just under five months before kick-off.

The third window period for sales ended last week with a total of 1,206,865 applications received from 192 countries. Apart from the hosts, who had requested 958,381 tickets, the highest demand has come from the USA (50,217), the UK (41,529) and Australia (15,523).

Those figures left FIFA and Local Organising Committee (LOC) pleased, but there was plenty of outrage over a lack of support for this summer's showpiece.

"It's sad that every morning you wake up and every morning there are articles from the world's football family saying that people should not fly to South Africa, that this is a dangerous country, that this is not good, that there is no way this person should fly to South Africa because it is a crazy country, that FIFA and (Sepp) Blatter made the wrong decision to host the World Cup in South Africa,'' the organisation's general secretary Jerome Valcke said.

"What we are asking is for fair treatment for South Africa, the same treatment that all the other World Cup countries got. Don't kill the World Cup before it has even happened.''

LOC chief executive Danny Jordaan added: "First they said 'the stadiums will never be ready' - that was your perception. The reality is that all the stadiums are done.

"Then they said 'you're going to run out of money before everything is done' - it has not happened. That was the perception and it was wrong. Then they said 'no-one is going to buy the tickets' - now we saying we sold over two million and there are just 900,000 left. So we are happy where we are.''

Asked to pinpoint which countries were largely responsible for the negative press, Valcke added: "I would say mainly in Europe from Germany and England. These are the two countries.

"I have not seen so much from France, Italy or Spain or from Holland or any of the other countries that have qualified. But again, these two countries are very big voices in the football family and that's why any time they are talking about the World Cup football, it's immediately in the headlines.

"I even said to Danny this morning we should even ask Mr (Jacob) Zuma (president of South Africa) to give a call to his colleagues Angela Merkel (Germany), Gordon Brown (UK), etc, call them and say 'hey, tell your country South Africa is a country and it's not the end of the world'.

"So there is no specific person, there are a lot of people who have been talking about South Africa and saying 'don't go to South Africa' so my comment is going to all of them and not specifically to one of them.''

Valcke did, however, suggest there was a concern over flight numbers to and from South Africa. He continued: "There are some issues with flying. It's very difficult to find a seat from Europe to South Africa for the World Cup.

"The price of tickets is also extremely high. So we are working and trying to see with airline companies, including our partners Emirates, to see how we could solve this issue.''

The one other concern for English fans is getting their hands on tickets for some high-demand matches. So far, 6,000 of the 29,000 World Cup tickets allocated by organisers to the Football Association have been bought. One match - the last-16 encounter, should England qualify - has been oversubscribed by members of the official supporters' group.

There are 150 outstanding tickets to satisfy the demand, but Valcke said they will have to examine the situation closely before making a decision. He added: "Generally I think when you are five months away from the event, if they are asking for additional tickets and the tickets are available in those categories or the categories they want, then we will provide them with those tickets.''

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