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Hope at the gates

rhondathompson, [email protected]

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JOHANNESBURG – The World Cup could surpass the three-million mark in paid attendance, the chief executive of the local organising committee said yesterday.Danny Jordaan said the paid attendance was already at 2.69 million people with eight games still to be played.“The signs are there,” Jordaan said of surpassing the three-million mark. “The South African fans have been superb. The spirit inside the country has been one of the outstanding features of this World Cup.”Official FIFA figures show a total of just under 3.4 million fans attended games at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, but FIFA could not say how many of those were paying fans and how many tickets were complimentary.At the 2002 tournament in Japan and South Korea, 2.7 million attended matches. There were nearly 2.8 million at the 1998 event in France and more than 3.5 million at the 1994 edition in the United States – the highest World Cup attendance, according to FIFA.But the world body also said yestersday it still had 1 000 unsold premier seats for the Argentina-Germany quarter-final match in Cape Town tomorrow – a game featuring two of the world’s biggest teams.There are also 700 premier and 200 Category 1 tickets remaining for today’s match between Uruguay and Ghana at Soccer City. Hugely disappointing international hospitality sales has also meant more than half of the suites have been left empty at many matches.Organisers have also struggled to ensure all ticket buyers actually attend games and fill their seats at the stadium.Port Elizabeth’s Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium had at least 4 000 empty seats for each of its first six games.Bloemfontein’s Free State Stadium had similar problems and only boasted a capacity crowd for two of its six games. (AP