POLOKWANE, South Africa (Reuters) - World Cup organisers are pleased with ticket sales and are confident all preparations will be complete in time for the opening match on June 11, FIFA President Sepp Blatter said on Saturday.
Extra tickets made available on Friday are selling fast, with 80,000 sold so far of the total 160,000 seats still up for grabs for soccer’s showpiece tournament, FIFA said.
Blatter said the world could now focus on football as concerns around Africa hosting a World Cup had been dispelled.
“I can say I am also excited that in a few days we can kick off the world Cup on the African continent,” he said at the opening of the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane, about 350km north of Johannesburg that will host four matches.
“All details will be wonderfully solved and we will have a great event.”
The 45,000 seat stadium was one of the venues that organisers were concerned may not attract as many fans due to Polokwane’s small size and distance from the country’s main cities.
Irvin Khoza, chairman of the local organising committee, said about 97 percent of the nearly 2.9 million tickets for the 64 games were sold, putting South Africa on a par with Germany in 2006.
“We are confident that we might go past that mark, definitely with what has happened in terms of demand,” he said.
After a slow start, blamed partly on a complicated internet-based ticketing system, South Africans have been quick to take up remaining seats, especially after organisers allowed over-the-counter sales.
Fans queued for hours to buy some of the new 90,000 tickets made available this week in often-chaotic scenes, much like the first time they changed to cash sales last month.
Khoza said he did not expect a repeat of the traffic problems around Soccer City — the Johannesburg venue that will stage the opening and final match of the month-long event — as more roads would be closed in future and games should not again clash with peak hour traffic.
The 94,500 seater, close to the township of Soweto, was hit by traffic gridlock on Thursday before South Africa’s warm-up game against Colombia.
Many fans abandoned their cars on the side of the road and walked to the stadium.
(Reporting by Gordon Bell; Editing by Alison Wildey
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