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Unsold hospitality tickets on sale to general public

More than 30,000 unsold premium tickets for the tournament are now available to the public after businesses decided not to send staff and clients.

The tickets will be in a new category established last week by FIFA. Holders will get access to areas normally reserved for sponsors and partners.

The global financial crisis, location of the World Cup and security concerns have led businesses to cut spending on trips. That's hurting companies that banked on millions flowing into the event.

"At this stage before the last tournament, two weeks before, and even three months before, people were fighting for tickets," Rene Proske, the managing director of Germany-based hospitality provider Proske Sports, said yesterday. "This fight is not going on and that to me is sad because it's a massive event."

MATCH Hospitality AG, the Zurich-based company that paid FIFA €100m for exclusive corporate hospitality rights to the event, is fighting to make a return, said Peter Csanadi, its head of marketing. It was reported in April that MATCH may have sold only 2,000 of its highest-value tickets to overseas visitors. FIFA had reserved 380,000 tickets for the hospitality sector.

"We are still alive," said Csanadi, who declined to provide figures for the number of hospitality packages sold or the company's revenue forecast for the month-long event, which starts on Friday.

Csanadi said banks, traditionally among the biggest buyers of hospitality at the World Cup, are finding it harder to justify spending money this time around, particularly those that have received government bailouts.

Robben hopeful of playing

Arjen Robben (right) is confident he can take part in the World Cup after his first physiotherapy session with Dick van Toorn. The Bayern Munich forward has a small tear in his left hamstring but is hoping intense physiotherapy will help him take part in South Africa.

Robben came on as a half-time substitute in Saturday's 6-1 thrashing of Hungary and scored two goals before being forced off five minutes from time.

The initial diagnosis was gloomy but Robben is certain he can soon travel to South Africa to join up with his team.

Speaking after his first session with Van Toorn, Robben said: "It is impossible to say whether that (a return) will only be about four days or a week away. It was tedious exercises. But we will do everything to get fit. I'm very hopeful. Now we will see how fast we can make progress. In 2008, Van Toorn got me back to action quickly."

Robben was also grateful to coach Bert van Marwijk who has not called up a replacement, saying: "I am very happy it gives me time to recover."

As for the player's chances of making the first game against Denmark, Van Toorn said: "With some luck, I think it should be possible."

Cameroon 'can make semi'

Cameroon's players are capable of taking the team beyond the World Cup quarter-finals, surpassing the country's 1990 performance, coach Paul Le Guen has said.

"We've scouted around and brought together many talents... fresh players like (Benoit) Assou-Ekotto, Enoh Eyong, and (Eric) Choupo-Moting have integrated well," Le Guen said on the eve of the team's departure for South Africa.

"Today I am proud to say I have a team which is efficient, the players are in good condition. I am optimistic we will go far, and why not beyond the quarter-finals?"

Cameroon, in Italy in 1990, became the first African team to reach the World Cup quarter-finals. Le Guen said he would be relying heavily on star striker Samuel Eto'o, who helped Inter Milan to win the Champions League final last month.

"I have players on whom I can count and Eto'o is the first," he said. "He is a great player, he is my captain. I believe in him, I'm sure he will deliver the goods."