World Cup 2010: ‘The trip of a lifetime’

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The World Cup tournament in South Africa in June and July has been hailed as the opportunity for the trip of a lifetime by fans of England, who are rated as one of the favourites.

Nearly all off the 29 000 tickets allocated to England fans in Britain have been sold and the remaining 6 000 will go on sale to the British public in February, giving England fans plenty of time to make arrangements to travel to South Africa and see the country.

A meeting involving World Cup officials, the British Foreign Office, the Football Association and representatives of fans who support England will be held in London today to boost sales.

According to the BBC, the tickets returned from England's allocation of 29 000 will go back on public sale through Fifa on 9 February.

LondonEnglandFans, a supporters group, wants more England supporters to get behind the team in South Africa. "This should now be the opportunity to sell the World Cup all over again," said the group's Mark Perryman.

"We want those stands supporting England to be full, and with tickets available South Africa will be the trip of a lifetime.

"We want to ensure any England fan with the means to get there doesn't miss out."

Perryman has organised today's meeting with World Cup officials.

Despite the returns, England supporters have made the third-highest number of ticket applications for this year's World Cup, behind South Africa and USA fans. But many foreign media reports fail to take into account that thousands of the tickets sold in South Africa have been bought by supporters of England, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal, Greece, France and other foreign countries taking part.

Hundreds of thousands of people who live in South Africa are emigrants from European countries who will naturally support their country of birth and South Africa, the country they have adopted at the same time.

England's opening match against the USA on 12 June in Rustenberg is expected to be one of the competition's most popular games. Supporters of both nations have each been given 12% of the match tickets - about 4 100 seats. Buth thousands of other England and USA fans who live in South Africa will be there

England follow the USA match with fixtures against Algeria in Cape Town on 18 June and Slovenia in Port Elizabeth five days later.

Matches featuring England, Germany, the Netherlands and other European countries are certain to be sell-outs in exactly the same way as those featuring South Africa.

While many professionals in the hospitality industry are disappointed that the hoped-for figure of 450 000 foreign visitors will not be reached during the World Cup, most can see no reason for the gloom-and-doom predictions that are now appearing in the media. The consensus is: "We are in business for the long term and are sure we will do better this year than last, even though there are a lot more rooms to sell this year."

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