Low crowd causes concern in Port Elizabeth

PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa — A disappointingly low turnout for Saturday's World Cup second round 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 out at a Nelson Mandela Bay stadium which had over 12,000 of its 42,000 seats unoccupied.

The official crowd figure of 30,597 was the smallest for any of the six World Cup matches staged at the venue which was built at a cost of 2.1 billion Rand (270 million US dollars).

The opening game, South Korea's first visit when they beat Greece 2-0, also failed to fill the rafters, with only 31,513 turning up.

By contrast the highest crowd of 38,294, was recorded for Germany's 1-0 loss to Serbia.

FIFA say that 5,000 tickets for Saturday's last 16 clash had gone unsold, while a further 1,500 ticket holders failed to attend.

Municipal 2010 director Errol Heynes, in an interview on Monday with The Herald newspaper, 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 of a bumper crowd for Friday's seventh game at Port Elizabeth, a quarter-final which could feature Brazil.

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

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."

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