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FIFA has confirmed that the Germany vs Australia World Cup soccer game will be shot in 3D, with Sony Australia tipped to sponsor the coverage via live events at cinemas across Australia. There is also speculation that SBS will put to air live 3D coverage of the game.

Together with Sony, FIFA plans to supply 25 World Cup matches in the immersive 3D technology made popular in cinemas by blockbuster movie, Avatar.

Viewers with 3D television sets in Australia will be able to watch the FIFA 3D games live at home if SBS sign up for the 3D rights. Currently, Disney’s ESPN in the U.S., Prisa’s Sogecable in Spain and Korea’s SBS have live 3D rights. More such deals are expected to be announced “shortly,” FIFA’s TV Director Niclas Ericson said. He has also admitted that Australian networks have approached FIFA about the World Cup 3D rights.

Asked at a London media event on Thursday how many viewers he thought were likely to watch World Cup games live in 3D, Ericson said: “We hope it will be at least a few hundred thousand per match,” adding that most of the audience was likely to be in cinemas.

Rights for cinemas and entertainment venues are being managed by Swiss-based Aruna Media AG, which plans to broadcast live to about 26 countries and is in advanced discussions with several major markets, FIFA and Sony said.

Sony hopes the tournament will whet viewers’ appetite for 3D, an industry still in its infancy, with several competing technologies and very few TV sets in homes. Sony plans to show 3D promotional trailers in thousands of retail stores worldwide.

The Japanese electronics giant will start selling its own 3D TVs in early June in Japan, with insiders tipping that Sony sets will also go on sale in Australia late in June 2010.

Technology research firm iSuppli expects about 4.2 million 3D TV sets to be sold worldwide this year, at an average price of $1,768. That should rise to 78 million sets by 2015, worth a total of $64.4 billion, iSuppli forecasts.

Much is at stake for Sony, as the company will need to show it can translate its expertise in 3D hardware and film content to the very different environment of sports, where fast-moving action can mean blurry images and even induce nausea in viewers.

“It will be a much richer experience, there’s a lot of depth to it. It won’t be similar to the Hollywood experience where there’s a lot of in-your-face Wow! type of effects,” David Bush, marketing director of Sony Professional,” told Reuters TV.

“What we expect to replicate is the experience of being in the stadium.”

The World Cup runs for a month from June 11 in South Africa.

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