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WORLD CUP 2010: BLATTER PRAISES SPECIAL WORLD CUP

By NBF News

Top goals from the 2010 World Cup
By Dan Roan
Fifa boss Sepp Blatter has rejected criticism of the 2010 World Cup which has centred on the quality of football on offer and too many empty seats.

“Every World Cup has its own history and its own culture,” he told 5 live's Sportsweek in an exclusive interview.

“It was a World Cup in a new continent with new culture and therefore it must be analysed on different levels.

“If you look at the enthusiasm in South Africa and the TV audiences around the world then it was a special World Cup.”

Speaking ahead of Sunday's World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands – the climax to the first World Cup held on African soil – Blatter insisted the world's governing body could not be blamed for those games that had been unattractive to watch.

“It was a very attractive World Cup and for me it was also a very emotional World Cup,” said the 74-year-old.

The attendance at some matches has also drawn criticism, but Blatter blamed those problems on the poor uptake of hospitality tickets.

“We have had empty seats yes, but not empty stadia. Don't forget, 95% of all tickets have been sold.

“There were two cities where we had in two matches not the expected attendances but otherwise if you have seen in some stadia empty seats it came from hospitality.

“There has not been the same enthusiasm for hospitality seats as we have seen in other World Cups.”

Responding to allegations the Nigeria team could have been vulnerable to match-fixing http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/newsnight/8805137.stm – a problem Fifa was warned of ahead of the tournament – Blatter maintained that the tournament had been “clean”.

“There was not one single alarm on match fixing. Not one single alarm in the early warning system also controlled through Interpol.”

Blatter, who became the eighth Fifa president in 1998, was keen to talk up the 2010 World Cup's legacy benefits, arguing the tournament had helped improve the South African economy and its transport infrastructure.


Cameroon supporters thank Sepp Blatter for the World Cup

“I just came back from humanitarian activity, visiting Winnie Mandela in Soweto and she said this World Cup made us proud,” he said.

However Fifa's president was more circumspect when it came to the performance of the African teams at the 2010 World Cup after only Ghana made it past the group stages.

“You cannot direct or manage a national team when you change the coach who is technically responsible two or three months before the competition.

“This has happened in two or three of the associations – Ivory Coast, South Africa and Nigeria – and therefore it would be a miracle if they go through.

“Nigeria was near to going through and with a little bit of luck we would have had Ghana in the semi-finals,” added Blatter, referring to Asamoah Gyan's extra-time penalty miss.

Fifa's head refused to talk about calls to introduce goal-line technology following Frank Lampard's strike http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/world_cup_2010/8766347.stm in the match against Germany not being given despite television evidence showing it clearly crossed the line , but he did make special mention of the vuvuzela, the blaring horn that became the World Cup's soundtrack.

“We have survived finally the vuvuzelas, everybody has,” quipped Blatter.

“It is not only the South African way, all the visitors have started to buy the vuvuzelas and on Sunday in the final there will not be even 50% South African people in the stadium but everybody will have these vuvuzelas.”