2010 ticket sales ailing in Africa

CAPE TOWN - Fans from Europe and the Americas have bought the bulk of tickets for the 2010 World Cup so far, with African countries trailing, the head of host South Africa's organising committee said on Thursday. The month-long tournament will be hosted for the first time on the African continent and has been punted as a continental event. Only five African countries, including host South Africa, are able to qualify. More Africans may purchase tickets if their countries qualify, said Danny Jordaan, chief executive of South Africa's World Cup organising committee. "We sold just over 800,000 (out of a total of 3.2 million) of which about 240,000 were sold inside South Africa," Jordaan told a media briefing in Cape Town, host venue for the final draw on December 4. "Very few of those tickets are on the African continent, the highest number is in Ghana, but most of the tickets have gone to Europe and the United States." Fans on the world's poorest continent can also expect to pay hefty fares for often poor-quality transport to travel to South Africa. Many will have to connect to European airports. Tickets sales, accommodation and transport have emerged as areas of concern for soccer's world governing body FIFA, despite South Africa in June hosting a successful Confederations Cup tournament seen as a dry-run to the world's most popular sporting event next year. Despite those factors, Jordaan predicted spikes in ticket sales as more countries qualify. "I have no doubt that we will sell out every single ticket for the World Cup," he said. Jordaan said South Africa had a shortfall of 15,000 out of 55,000 hotel rooms. He said organisers would meet with the tourism minister in August to iron out accommodation issues, specifically around grading and how smaller hotels and Bed and Breakfasts could offer rooms. Jordaan said the final draw would help South Africa deal with transport challenges because organisers would know exactly where teams played and what their fan profiles were. "If you have England, for example, playing or if you have Trinidad and Tobago or Slovenia... the number of fans following the team will determine the transport requirements," he said.