FIFA providing 150,000 more World Cup tickets

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - An extra 150,000 tickets for all 64 World Cup matches will be put on sale Friday after 96 per cent of seats were sold, FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke said.

At a ceremony officially handing over Cape Town's majestic new seaside stadium for the World Cup, Valcke said that if the additional tickets were sold the tournament would reach almost 98 percent capacity across all the 10 stadiums.

A total of nearly 2.9 million seats were available for the world's most watched sporting event, which runs for a month from June 11.

The number of tickets available for any stadium would vary from 200 upwards. Valcke said last week organizers were having trouble filling the smaller Nelspruit, Polokwane and Port Elizabeth stadiums for some matches.

Estimates of foreign visitors for the World Cup, once put at 450,000, have recently been reduced to between 300,000 and 370,000. The number has been depressed by the global economic crisis, the cost of a long-haul World Cup destination and fears over South Africa's high levels of violent crime.

Last month, realising it had made errors in selling tickets only over the internet, FIFA launched a drive to market the remaining seats to South Africans, who have grabbed thousands in over-the-counter cash sales.

(Reporting by Barry Moody; Editing by Clare Fallon)