150000 WORLD CUP TICKETS FOR GRABS

AN EXTRA 150000 tickets for all 64 World Cup matches will be put on sale tomorrow after 96 percent of seats were sold, Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke said.

AN EXTRA 150000 tickets for all 64 World Cup matches will be put on sale tomorrow after 96 percent of seats were sold, Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke said.

At a ceremony officially handing over Cape Town's majestic new seaside stadium for the World Cup, Valcke said if the additional tickets were sold the tournament would reach almost 98percent of capacity across all 10 stadiums.

A total of nearly 2,9million seats were available for the world's most watched sporting event, which runs for a month from June 11.

Valcke said the additional tickets were from inventory that soccer's governing body had held back until now for its own use.

The number of tickets available for any stadium would vary from 200 upwards. Valcke said last week organisers were having trouble filling the smaller Nelspruit, Polokwane and Port Elizabeth stadiums for some matches.

Estimates of foreign visitors to the World Cup, once put at 450000, were recently reduced to between 300 000 and 370 000. The number has been depressed by the global economic crisis, the cost of a long-haul World Cup destination and fears over South Africa's high levels of violent crime.

Last month, realising it had made errors in selling tickets only over the Internet, Fifa launched a drive to market the remaining seats to South Africans, who have grabbed thousands in over-the-counter cash sales.

Meanwhile, an alleged al-Qaeda plot against the soccer World Cup was "a bluff", according to Valcke.

He said Interpol had investigated after the arrest in Iraq of a Saudi army officer for involvement in an alleged plot.

"An investigation was launched by Interpol and some other international police agencies," Valcke said.

"I got a report yesterday saying it was just a bluff and there was nothing concrete about this threat.

"The statement by al-Qaeda this morning just confirms what we have been working on since now weeks and months: any time a threat was coming, we check, and it's not very strong."

On Tuesday al-Qaeda denied involvement in the alleged plot.

Valcke said he believed the threats were made by people who were merely trying to "get some spotlight on them because the world is watching South Africa for the next 40 days". - Sapa

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