MP reassures German fans

THE security precautions taken by South Africa in the run-up to the football World Cup meet the highest standards, a security expert from Germany's parliament said yesterday.

THE security precautions taken by South Africa in the run-up to the football World Cup meet the highest standards, a security expert from Germany's parliament said yesterday.

Frank Hofmann, acting chairperson of the parliamentary committee on home affairs in Berlin and an MP for the official opposition, the Social Democratic Party, was speaking to German press agency dpa after an information-gathering visit to South Africa.

"We are very impressed by the professionalism of the security forces, especially at the leadership level, as well as by the preparations for the World Cup in general," Hofmann said.

German fans who wanted to visit South Africa should not be put off by "sensational headlines" about the purportedly high security threat to visitors, which, in his view, were not based on the facts. Hofmann said British tabloids in particular were responsible for such reports. The politician was impressed by South Africa's close cooperation with security forces from participating countries and international agencies such as Interpol.

"The South Africans have every reason to be confident, given their preparations," he said, while admitting the success of a World Cup also depended to a large extent on "luck".

South Africa's violent crime problem, which has received extensive coverage in Germany's media, has been listed among the reasons for low ticket sales in Europe. Many European fans have also cited cost as a deterrent.

Out of the 2,2million tickets sold so far, Germans, who are normally among the Cup's most enthusiastic supporters, have bought only 32269. By comparison, fans in the United States have bought 118945. British fans have bought 67654 tickets, while South Africans have bought nearly 1million. - Sapa

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