National News

SA nears attendance record

2010-07-01 14:19

Johannesburg - The World Cup could set a new record for paid attendance with three million fans expected to attend games, local organising committee CEO Danny Jordaan said on Thursday.

"With the quarterfinals, semi-finals and final being played at the biggest stadiums in the country, it is possible we will top the three million fan attendance mark after the final at Soccer City on July 11," Jordaan told media in Sandton, Johannesburg.

Already 2.69 million fans had paid to watch the first two rounds of the global showpiece.

"I reckon there is a big possibility we will do it (break three million) for the first time since the 1994 event in the United States," he said.

"The signs are there. The South African fans have been superb. The spirit inside the country has been one of the outstanding features of this World Cup."

Jordaan said that attendance figures for fan parks worldwide were over three million. So far hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide had watched the first two rounds live giving South Africa incredible positive coverage.

He said foreign tourists had injected R6.5bn into the economy during the first two weeks of the World Cup. It was hoped that figure would rise to R9bn by July 11, he said, adding that the number of tourists was higher than expected.

Visitors beyond projection

"We had projected between 450 000 and 500 000 in 2004-07.

"But the world economic crisis in 2008 made us revise that figure to under 300 000.

"But we are delighted to have attracted so many soccer tourists for the first two weeks of the World Cup," he said, explaining that 364 000 visitors had been recorded in the first two weeks of the tournament.

Jordaan was also hoping that Ghana would break new frontiers and become the first African country to reach the semi-finals.

"We are hoping Ghana make history by becoming the first African nation to qualify for the semi-finals of the World Cup. That would be the cherry on top for Africa."

Ghana, the last African country left in the tournament, play Uruguay in the quarter-finals at Soccer City on Friday night.

Jordaan added: "But for us the dream has come true and this event hosted by South Africa has been an extraordinary success."

He said South Africa had proved the naysayers wrong.

Positive energy

"There were plenty of doubters from the foreign media when we won the right to host the 2010 event."

"Now to their credit those people have said sorry and complimented the way we have run the tournament and the huge success of the first World Cup in Africa."

The people of South Africa were the winners, he said.

"The atmosphere in the country has been incredible and this has been shown worldwide on television that we are a happy people despite the problems we have overcome in the past."

"There is a positive energy in our country we need to harness and maintain after the World Cup ends."

Jordaan added that a World Cup hangover could be expected on July 12.

"For a while we will be depressed. But we can hold our heads high knowing we have surpassed all expectations."

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