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15.04.2010 Sports News

South Africans queue overnight for World Cup tickets

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Thousands of South African fans queued overnight at supermarkets and shopping malls on Thursday for a chance to buy the 500,000 unsold World Cup tickets.

Fifa agreed on Wednesday to drop a ruling that sales could only be made online or through a ballot procedure.

There is still availability for all 64 games, including the final at Soccer City in Johannesburg on 11 July.

"We are committed to facilitating the process for all fans," said Jerome Valcke, Fifa general secretary.

BBC Africa correspondent Andrew Harding says there were exuberant scenes in Sandton, north of Johannesburg, where people camped out on the street through the night.

"The last time I waited in a line like this was when I voted for Mandela," said one man who did not want to give his name because he was skipping work to stand in line.

Many South Africans had complained the original process, by which tickets were sold through Fifa's website or in a complicated ballot at a local bank branch, excluded people without web access, credit cards or the disposable income to pay for their tickets months in advance.

"We are excited about these new initiatives, which make the process much easier for everyone," commented World Cup 2010 boss Danny Jordaan.

"We have always said that it is important that we make this World Cup more accessible to the people and with over the counter sales, we believe this measure is consistent with the needs of the fans."

Ticket prices are also well above normal for top-level football in South Africa.

A special category for local residents sells at 145 rand (£13) but costs escalate drastically in higher categories for better seats and after the first-round group phase with prices for premier seats at the final coming in at 6582 rand (£581).

Demand in South Africa had initially been sluggish but the most recent phase saw 85% of the 240,000 tickets sold between February and the beginning of April go to locals.

Fifa has since revealed that 2.2 million tickets have been sold for the tournament, which kicks off on 11 June.

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