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SWC in South Africa 'is safe'

2010-04-13 13:56

Cape Town - The security precautions taken by South Africa in the run-up to the Soccer World Cup meet the highest standards, a security expert from Germany's parliament said on Tuesday.

Frank Hofmann, acting chairperson of parliamentary committee on home affairs in Berlin, was speaking to the German Press Agency dpa after an information-gathering visit to South Africa.

"We are very impressed by the professionalism of the security forces, especially at the leadership level, as well as by the preparations for the World Cup in general, Hofmann, an MP for the official opposition SPD, said.

German football fans, who wanted to visit South Africa, should not be put off by "sensational headlines" about the purportedly high security threat to visitors, which, in his view, had no factual basis.

Hofmann said British tabloids were particularly to blame.

The politician was impressed by South Africa's close cooperation with security forces from participating countries, including Germany, and international agencies such as Interpol, on its security arrangements.

"The South Africans have every reason to be confident, given their World Cup preparations," he said, while admitting the success of a World Cup also depended to a large extent on "luck."

South Africa's violent crime problem, which has also received extensive coverage in German media, has been listed among the reasons for disappointing ticket sales in Europe. Many European fans have also cited cost as a deterrent.

Out of the 2.2 million tickets sold so far, Germans, who are normally among the most enthusiastic supporters, have bought only 32 269 to date. By comparison, fans in the United States, where football is a marginal sport, have bought 118 945.

British fans have bought 67 654 tickets, while South Africans have bought nearly one million.

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