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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, June 25, 2009

Soccer: Organizers hope U.S. win boosts World Cup ticket sales

AP Sports Writer

JOHANNESBURG The World Cup organizing committee in South Africa is already hoping that the United States' shock win over Spain at the Confederations Cup will increase ticket sales for next year's main event.

Organizing committee spokesman Jermaine Craig said Thursday that 93,000 tickets for the World Cup had already been sold to U.S. residents.

"We've just come from New York just before the tournament started, and I've seen a phenomenal interest and, really, excitement in the U.S. about the 2010 FIFA World Cup," Craig said. "And certainly the response since last night's victory has been quite incredible."

The Americans entered the current tournament as a clear underdog in Group B with World Cup holder Italy, Brazil and Egypt. But after losing to both the Italians and Brazilians, the United States scraped through to the semifinals by beating Egypt 3-0 and advancing by virtue of having scored one more goal than Italy.

They were then expected to lose Wednesday's semifinal against European champion Spain, which had won a record 15 straight games and looked unbeatable through three Group A games. But the Americans pulled off the second big upset of the tournament, after Egypt's 1-0 win over Italy, by beating the Spanish 2-0.

"That's also going to be a major boost, I'm sure, for ticketing sales for next year," Craig said.

The United States has not yet qualified for next year's World Cup, but it is expected to make it. The Americans are in second place in qualifying with 10 points from five matches, and the top three teams in the six-team group qualify automatically.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has long been trying to boost football's profile in the United States, but it still lags behind most of the rest of the world, where the sport is by far the most popular.

"Let's say for the U.S. and for football in the U.S., probably this result can impact on the development of soccer football in the United States," FIFA spokesman Nicolas Maingot said. "Soccer has been developing in the U.S. for years and years, and probably a result like last night can only help.

"If it will have an impact on ticketing for 2010, it's probably a bit too soon to anticipate on that."