Fifa condemns England for World Cup gloom

FIFA have named England and Germany as two of the many culprits that continue to portray South Africa in a negative light ahead of the World Cup.

Football's world governing body yesterday released figures from their latest ticket sales phase which suggest two-thirds of the three million briefs have been sold with less than five months until kick-off. The third window period for sales ended last week with 1,206,865 applications received from 192 countries. Apart from the hosts, who had requested 958,381 tickets, the highest demand has come from the USA (50,217), the UK (41,529) and Australia (15,523).

But Fifa's general secretary Jerome Valcke hit out at the lack of support for this summer's showpiece. "It's sad that every morning you wake up and every morning there are articles from the world's football family saying that people should not fly to South Africa, that this is a dangerous country, that this is not good, that there is no way this person should fly to South Africa because it is a crazy country, that Fifa and (Sepp] Blatter made the wrong decision to host the World Cup in South Africa," Valcke said.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

"What we are asking is for fair treatment for South Africa, the same treatment that all the other World Cup countries got. Don't kill the World Cup before it has even happened."

LOC chief executive Danny Jordaan added: "First they said 'the stadiums will never be ready' – that was your perception. The reality is that all the stadiums are done. Then they said 'you're going to run out of money before everything is done' – it has not happened. That was the perception and it was wrong. Then they said 'no-one is going to buy the tickets' – now we saying we sold over two million and there are just 900,000 left."

Asked to pinpoint which countries were largely responsible for the negative press, Valcke added: "I would say mainly in Europe from Germany and England. These are the two countries. I have not seen so much from France, Italy or Spain or from Holland or any of the other countries that have qualified. But again, these two countries are very big voices in the football family and that's why any time they are talking about the World Cup football, it's immediately in the headlines.

"I even said to Danny this morning we should even ask Mr (Jacob] Zuma (president of South Africa] to give a call to his colleagues Angela Merkel (Germany], Gordon Brown, etc, call them and say 'hey, tell your country South Africa is a country and it's not the end of the world'."

One concern for English fans is getting their hands on tickets for some high-demand matches. So far, 6,000 of the 29,000 World Cup tickets allocated by organisers to the Football Association have been bought.