Empty stands a worry

A DISAPPOINTINGLY low turnout for Saturday's second-round World Cup clash between Uruguay and South Korea has been partly blamed on unsold tickets and no-shows.

A DISAPPOINTINGLY low turnout for Saturday's second-round World Cup clash between Uruguay and South Korea has been partly blamed on unsold tickets and no-shows.

Uruguay's 2-1 win over South Korea was played at a Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth that had more than 12000 of its 42000 seats unoccupied.

The official crowd figure of 30597 was the smallest for any of the six World Cup matches staged at the venue, which was built at a cost of R2,1billion.

The opening game, South Korea's first visit when they beat Greece 2-0, also failed to fill the seats, with only 31513 turning up.

By contrast the biggest crowd of 38294 was recorded for Germany's 1-0 loss to Serbia.

Fifa say that 5000 tickets for Saturday's round of 16 clash had gone unsold, while a further 1500 ticket holders failed to attend.

In an interview yesterday with The Herald newspaper, municipal 2010 director Errol Heynes also put the low attendance down to the fixture's lack of star appeal.

"It was a bit unfortunate as the teams are not popular locally," he told the paper.

Fifa media officer Wolfgang Eichler said that some ticket holders had failed to turn up due to poor ticket distribution and transport problems.

Hopes are high for a bumper crowd at Friday's seventh game in Port Elizabeth, a quarterfinal clash that could feature Brazil.

Heynes suggested this sleepy Eastern Cape port city had struggled to attract fans due to its position, in the shadow of the far more popular tourist destination of Cape Town.

He said: "We have got to market ourselves vigorously so that we can be recognised like cities like Cape Town. Strong marketing campaigns are needed. This World Cup should serve as a catalyst for the international community to see what the Bay looks like, in order to get an influx of visitors." - Sapa-AFP

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