[WORLD CUP COUNTDOWN]One of the great unknowns about the 2010 World Cup is just how many visitors will travel to South Africa. Donald Gips, the U.S. ambassador to South Africa, says it hard to guess how many Americans will attend the World Cup, but the best guess is "somewhere between 25,000 and 40,000."
FIFA estimates 132,000 tickets have been bought by Americans -- more than any other country outside the host nation -- but how many individual visitors that translates into is hard to determine.
Speaking Sunday at the U.S. national team's open practice that attracted several hundred vuvuzela-blowing children, Gips downplayed concerns about violence in South Africa. His remarks came more than a week after the State Department issued a travel alert to U.S. citizens traveling to South Africa.
"It is a country that is coming from the legacy of apartheid," he said. "In the 15 or 16 years since it's been a free democracy, they've made huge strides, but it's a very difficult legacy to overcome. So there are still problems that need to be addressed."
(Soccer America readers: If you're going to the World Cup, what concerns, if any, do you have about traveling to South Africa? What's the best advice you have or have been given for sale travels? Let us know in the comments below.)