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THE 2010 Fifa World Cup could set a new record for paid attendance with 3million fans expected to attend games, local organising committee chief executive officer Danny Jordaan said yesterday.
"With the quarterfinals, semifinals and final being played at the biggest stadiums in the country, it is possible we will top the 3million fan attendance mark after the final at Soccer City on July 11," Jordaan told the media in Johannesburg.
Already 2,69million fans had paid to watch the first two rounds of the global showpiece.
"I reckon there is a big possibility we will do it [break 3million] for the first time since the 1994 event in the US. The signs are there. The South African fans have been superb. The spirit inside the country has been one of the outstanding features of this World Cup."
Jordaan said attendance figures for fan parks worldwide were more than 3million. So far hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide had watched the first two rounds live giving SA incredible positive coverage.
He said foreign tourists had injected R6,5billion into the economy during the first two weeks of the World Cup. It was hoped that figure would rise to R9billion by July 11, he said, adding that the number of tourists was higher than expected.
"We had projected between 450000 and 500000 in 2004-07. But the world economic crisis in 2008 made us revise that figure to under 300000.
"But we are delighted to have attracted so many soccer tourists for the first two weeks of the World Cup," he said, explaining that 364000 visitors had been recorded in the first two weeks of the tournament.
Jordaan was also hoping that Ghana would break new frontiers and become the first African country to reach the semifinals.
"That would be the cherry on top for Africa."
Ghana, the last African country left in the tournament, play Uruguay in the quarterfinals at Soccer City tonight.
Jordaan said: "But for us the dream has come true and this event, hosted by South Africa, has been an extraordinary success."
He said SA had proved the naysayers wrong.
"Now to their credit those people have said sorry and complimented the way we have run the tournament and the huge success of the first World Cup in Africa."
The people of South Africa were the winners, he said: "The atmosphere in the country has been incredible and this has been shown worldwide on television that we are a happy people despite the problems we have overcome in the past."
Jordaan added that a World Cup hangover could be expected on July 12.
"For a while we will be depressed. But we can hold our heads high knowing we have surpassed all expectations." - Sapa