Cold keeps fans away

COLD weather and unpopular matches have been blamed for lower than expected attendances at some of the venues set up to allow fans without tickets in South Africa to watch the World Cup on big screens.

COLD weather and unpopular matches have been blamed for lower than expected attendances at some of the venues set up to allow fans without tickets in South Africa to watch the World Cup on big screens.

More than three million fans worldwide have watched the World Cup so far at the 16 official Fifa fan parties - including six abroad in Rome, Paris, Berlin, Sydney, Mexico and Rio - but crowds at the colder inland venues in South Africa have dwindled.

"There have been some games where we have seen a huge deterioration of numbers," said Johannesburg's World Cup project team spokesperson Sibongile Mazibuko.

Mazibuko said cold weather and not necessarily the absence of popular teams had affected crowds. In 2006, the fan parks attracted eight million visitors.

Durban has been the most popular South African venue so far, with more than 375000 people watching matches, followed by Cape Town with just over 300000.

"The Fifa Fan Fests have been a huge success in South Africa, particularly in coastal towns where the weather is warmer," Mazibuko said. "We are hoping the weather is warming up so the numbers can increase."

Matches involving Brazil and Argentina, plus remaining African hope Ghana, have proven to be the favourites, Mazibuko said.

The most popular match at the venues so far has been the opener between host South Africa and Mexico. More than 300000 fans were at 10 South African fan parks to watch Bafana Bafana draw 1-1 with Mexico.

Berlin is the most popular international venue with a total of more than 385000 fans watching matches. Numbers at Berlin's big screen were boosted by its move to near the Brandenburg gate. That enormous street site attracted the highest single day crowd of 305000 last Wednesday, when Germany beat Ghana 1-0. - Sapa-AP

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