Nigerians snap up World Cup tickets

ZURICH - Nigerian fans, among the most exuberant and vociferous in Africa, have been snapping up World Cup tickets in the last few days after more flights to South Africa were laid on.

"We have discussed ways of bringing fans from qualified African nations and Nigeria bought 1,000 tickets over the last days because they got a commitment that they will be able to fly to South Africa with a local airline," FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke told reporters on Friday.

Mobile ticket centres would be set up in South Africa's neighbouring countries in another attempt to make the June 11-July 11 tournament more accessible to African fans, he added.

Critics have said Africa's first World Cup is out of reach for all but a tiny proportion of the continent's fans because of a lack of flights, the consequent high price of tickets and absence of any other transport options.

Many fans wanting to travel to South Africa from Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Cameroon - three of the qualifiers - would currently have to fly via Europe on scheduled flights.

Fans in South Africa and other countries have complained that the normal system of buying tickets over the internet is unsuitable for Africa where supporters have little access to computers and are not used to booking in advance.

"We are opening ticket centres in South Africa and have mobile units in South Africa and neighbouring countries on April 15. Fans will be able to buy tickets for $20 without having to fill in forms and this will increase sales of tickets in South Africa and elsewhere on the continent," Valcke said. "We have put everything in place."

Nigerian fans stand out for the non-stop drumming, singing and out-of-tune trumpets which form a backdrop to their team's games.

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