PtG Article 29.01.2010

FIFA calls negative portrayal of South Africa insane

FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke has cited media in England and Germany as being behind a wave of negative publicity ahead of this summer’s World Cup in South Africa.

“It's sad that every morning you wake up and there are articles in the paper coming from people in the football family saying that you should not fly to South Africa,” said Valcke. “It's insane. Give South Africa a chance."

Asked to name the countries mainly responsible for the negative press by website sport24, Valcke said: "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.”

Valcke’s comments come as FIFA unveiled more details on ticket sales and only a day after news emerged that the opening of Soccer City, the venue for the final itself, had been delayed.

To try and counter the negative publicity, FIFA released new details on ticket applications that show Americans have bought more tickets than any other country outside of South Africa with 50,217 applications so far. The next largest amount of applications for tickets is the United Kingdom, home to England, followed by Australia with 15,523 and Mexico, surprisingly, in fourth.

"First you said the stadiums will never be finished, that was your perception," said a defiant Danny Jordaan, chief executive of the South African organisers. "The reality is all the stadiums are done. Then you said we are going to run out of money before everything is in place. It did not happen. That was your perception, you were wrong. Then you said no one is going to buy the tickets and now we say we've sold over two million and we have 900,000 and we're going to sell every ticket."

Almost 80% of the 1.2 million tickets applications have been from South Africans and any remaining unsold after April 15 will be sold over the counter to South Africans. So far, six matches are oversubscribed: both semi-finals, the final and the group stage game between Brazil and Portugal in Durban on June 25.