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Tags: cup | riots | seats | empty

World Cup Hit by Riots, No-Shows

Monday, 14 June 2010 11:48 AM EDT

DURBAN - A riot over stewards' pay and more ranks of empty seats gave World Cup organisers a twin headache on Monday as they announced the ear-splitting vuvuzela trumpets were here to stay.

After a triumphant opening confounded scepticism about South Africa's ability to host the World Cup, FIFA had to confront the first major unrest of the tournament after Germany's 4-0 win over Australia in Durban.

Police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades to break up a protest which broke out in the early hours by around 400 stadium staff protesting what they said was a pay cut from 250 rand (33 dollars) to 190 rand per day.

"They were unhappy about the wages they were getting from their employers, so they started getting unruly," police spokeswoman Phindile Radebe told AFP.

Police broke up the initial protest outside the stadium, but about 200 continued protesting on a nearby street, where rubber bullets and stun grenades were fired to break up the demonstration, she said.

"No one has been arrested so far," Radebe said, adding that fans had already left the stadium when the protest broke out.

A spokesman for the local organising committee said a meeting was being set up between the firm contracted to provide stewarding and workers to resolve the dispute, insisting spectators' safety had not been in danger.

"There was an internal dispute between the security company employed by the organising committee and some of their static security stewards," Rich Mkhondo told reporters.

"This is an internal matter and we have convened a meeting between the representatives of the stewards and the service provider and ourselves to make sure things are ironed out and that we will not see a repeat of what happened this morning."

The tournament also faced negative headlines over ranks of empty seats which were spotted at some of the less glamorous ties over the weekend.

Around 8,000 seats were empty during Saturday's match between South Korea and Greece, while there were also gaping holes at Monday's game in the central city of Bloemfontein between Japan and Cameroon.

Most of the empty seats at Port Elizabeth had been sold to corporate clients who had just not turned up.

"Of course it is not nice to see empty seats at a World Cup stadium," said FIFA spokesman Nicolas Maingot. "You cannot draw conclusions after eight games."

In contrast, the match between the Netherlands and Denmark at Johannesburg's showpiece Soccer City stadium appeared full to the rafters. Supporters tried desperately to find tickets off touts for a match the Dutch won 2-0.

Around 1,000 fans who did get into the game had to find alternative post-match transport after drivers of a special high-speed bus service who had delivered them to the ground subsequently went on strike.

Japanese fans who had gathered in Bloemfontein dressed up in Samurai outfits and took photos of themselves with their counterparts from Cameroon, while practicing on the vuvuzela trumpets which are driving some players mad.

"Last night we bought some vuvuzelas, but it is hard to blow them. We kept practising," said Mitsutaka Kurata, from Tokyo.

Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo was the latest star to voice unease about the trumpet, telling reporters it affected players' focus.

"A lot of players don't like them, but they are going to have to get used to them," said the Real Madrid winger.

But officials from football's world governing body FIFA and the competition's organising committee said there was no chance of them being shown the red card.

"I don’t see banning the music traditions of fans in their own country. Would you want to see a ban on the fan traditions in your country?" FIFA president Sepp Blatter wrote on Twitter.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.

© Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

DURBAN - A riot over stewards' pay and more ranks of empty seats gave World Cup organisers a twin headache on Monday as they announced the ear-splitting vuvuzela trumpets were here to stay.
Monday, 14 June 2010 11:48 AM
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