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Low attendance at Germany vs. Paraguay blamed on location, poor

Updated: Saturday June 15, 2002 11:48 p.m. ET

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- World soccer body FIFA is blaming low attendance at the second-round match between Paraguay and Germany on the location of the stadium and poor ticket sales.

The match at Seogwipo, South Korea, Saturday saw the poorest crowd at the World Cup so far, some 25,000 spectators -- the lowest attendance in the knockout stages since Czechoslovakia's clash with Costa Rica in the second round of the 1990 World Cup.

"Domestic ticket sales were solid, they accounted for about 75-80 percent of the total sales, but international sales were poor," said spokesman of the Korean organizers, Chemin Rim, on Sunday.

He said the market on the island of Jeju, where the stadium is located, is weaker than on the mainland and the distance from Seoul may also have played its role.

But FIFA defended the new system of ticket sales -- via FIFA's website, by telephone and with the so-called smart card -- pointing out Saturday's other match, Denmark vs. England in Niigata, Japan, was sold out.

The soccer body admitted earlier this week it had mishandled the organization of ticket sales in the first round, after entire ranks of empty seats during early matches caused alarm in both South Korea and Japan.

But the soccer body said the situation would improve as the competition moves into the knockout stages.

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