World Cup scalpers out in force

PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa, June 18, 2010 (AFP) - Two hours before gates opened for the World Cup clash between Germany and Serbia on Friday, ticket scalpers circled the stadium for potential buyers.

They casually approach fans to ask if they have tickets for the game. In some cases a quick unsuspecting transaction followed.

Daniel Zunker, dressed in full German team supporter gear, said he had three tickets to sell for the game.

"The tickets were for my friend who could not come here because of high travel and accommodation cost. He asked me to help recover his money," said Zunker.

"These are category two tickets but I am looking for the highest price, unless I don't get a buyer before kick-off. These are real tickets, not fake," he added.

FIFA has raised concern about the number of empty seats at stadiums, even at matches where all tickets had been sold. The world football governing body blamed the empty spaces on fans who failed to show up for the games.

On the even of the Germany match, scalpers openly approached people at bars and restaurants in Port Elizabeth, taking advantage of the growing buzz ahead of the match.

German fans hope their team will repeat the four goal hammering they inflicted on Australia last week.

"Every football supporter in 'Deutschland' would have loved to be here. I heard stories about people who got tickets but could not come because of financial reasons," said Zunker who took out a bank loan to come to the World Cup.

A Serbian fan who was seen by AFP exchanging money with fans after a short discussion said he was "happy to help others see the game."

Scalpers operated under the nose of heavy security presence, with armed and private police patrolling the stadium perimeter.

Supporters of Mexico celebrate outside Peter Mokaba stadium in Polokwane, South Africa, after the Mexican national football team defeated France 2-0. AFP

A special World Cup court this week sentenced a Nigerian scalper to three years in jail after he was found with 30 tickets on Sunday.

According to police the tickets were purchased by two men via the Internet and their addresses could not be verified.

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