Around 700,000 fans applying for soccer World Cup tickets

FIFA has received nearly 700,000 ticket applications for the World Cup in South Africa, the Cape Argus newspaper reported on Wednesday.

These applications come from more than 170 countries. There are just two weeks until the present sales phase closes on Jan. 22.

FIFA stipulates it makes no difference whether application is submitted early or as late, as each correctly submitted application will have the same opportunity of being successful in the draw scheduled for next month.

In total, about one million tickets were made available in the third sales phase, including a limited number for the opening match and the final.

Category four tickets, the most affordable, have been exclusively set aside for South Africans. Of the 675,684 applications received, 520,960 were from South African residents.

South Africans have accounted for more than three-quarters of the total, with the United States leading the rest of the world in terms of applications.

US fans have applied for 22,942 tickets, followed by the Britain of 20,000, Mexico in 7,981, Germany in 7,697, Australia in 6,277 and Brazil in 4,760.

Fans may apply for a maximum of four tickets for each match, and for up to a maximum of seven matches.

All 32 participating member associations will be allocated 12 percent of all purchasable tickets for the stadiums at which their three group games will be played.

Soccer fans may also buy authorized travel packages through participating tour operators appointed by FIFA.

Top S African soccer official resigns

JOHANNESBURG, Jan. 6 (Xinhua) -- The chief executive of the South African Football Association (SAFA), Raymond Hack, has resigned for undisclosed reason on Wednesday.

Hack made the announcement during a hastily arranged news conference at SAFA house here on Wednesday afternoon, according to the South African Press Association.

The reasons for Hack's resignation were not yet clear. The move comes just five months before South Africa host the FIFA World Cup.

There was some controversy around the election of Kirsten Nematandani as SAFA president in September last year.

Divisions emerged between the supporters of Danny Jordaan and Irvin Khoza, who were regarded as favorites for the post.

Yao Ming's expected baby stirs fresh Yao fever in China

YY: they don't mean much right now, but Chinese basketball fans hope these two initials could herald future victories for the national team.
"YY" looks certain to be the nickname of Houston Rockets star Yao Ming's first child, whose imminent arrival was broken on Chinese television on Monday by Miao Lijie, a friend of Yao's wife, Ye Li.

The letters are the twinned initials of Yao and Ye, explained Miao on a live TV show in Shanghai.

Miao, who plays alongside Ye on the Chinese women's basketball team, said Ye was quietly expecting the couple's first baby at home.

The news, which was later confirmed by Zhang Chi, Yao's spokesman in Shanghai, triggered a barrage of baby names on the Internet, as well as predictions about its height, gender and nationality.

Suggested names for the child are found in every major forum and portal. The most popular suggestion was Yao Yuchun in reference to Li Yuchun, winner of Super Girl, a nationwide singing contest.

The facial resemblance of Yao Ming and Li Yuchun has long been a hot topic on Chinese portals.

The name took the lead over traditional and auspicious Chinese names and those coined with basketball big names like Yao'neal, Yao Kobe.

Although sources of sina.com, one of China's largest portals, said the baby would not be born until May or June, fans have already made predictions on its eventual height.

According to on-line commentator "Li," who claims to be a doctor, a genetic equation show the height of a son would range from 2.075 to 2.215 meters and that of a daughter from 1.945 to 2.085 meters.

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