Football-crazy fans in Hong Kong were rejoicing Thursday with the news that a local distribution company has become among the first to sign on for 3D coverage of this year's World Cup in South Africa.

Fans here will now be able to see up to 25 World Cup games live in 3D at cinemas and selected venues, according to the Panorama Entertainment Group which has picked up the sole Asian rights for 3D coverage of the June 11 to July 11 event (www.fifa.com/worldcup/).

The Swiss sports-based company Aruna Media was last week given the task of managing exclusive 3D cinema and entertainment venue rights for the World Cup by FIFA - world soccer's governing body - and said it was currently negotiating to beam the matches in 3D to about 26 countries and that details would be relased once other contracts were signed. The 3D coverage itself will be provided by Sony, which will have seven pairs of high-definition cameras at every match.

In turn, Panorama say they are talking with Asia's massive Golden Harvest cinema group, which has more than 220 3D screens operating in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore.

The company said ticket prices would be in line with those currently charged for 3D films in Hong Kong - at HK$100 (€9.50).

"The 3D broadcast will give viewers the virtual experience of being in the stadiums of South Africa,'' Panorama's chief executive Allan Fung Yee-ching told a press conference held to mark the deal.

MS

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