With less than 12 hours to go before the first kick-off in Sao Paulo at one of the most controversial soccer World Cup tournaments in recent history, tickets have remained unsold for many games, including those involving powerhouse teams such as Germany, Italy and France.
FIFA, world football's governing body, has reportedly sold more than 2.9 million tickets for the tournament that Brazil is hosting for the first time since 1950. However, tickets remained unsold for fixtures such as Germany vs. Ghana, Switzerland vs. France and Italy vs. Uruguay, Associated Press reported Wednesday.
Though tickets for Thursday’s opening game between Brazil and Croatia in Sao Paulo sold out quickly, only 25,600 tickets of the total 61,600 were actually sold to the general public, AP reported, while 10,000 additional tickets were given away through promotional activities, and the rest was distributed among sponsors and local organizers.
FIFA reportedly expected more than 3.1 million tickets to be sold for the Brazil World Cup but plenty of tickets remained available for games at hard-to-access venues around the country involving lesser-known teams such as Bosnia, Iran, Greece and Ivory Coast. However, fans desperate to attend games featuring high-profile players and teams would have to shell out higher amounts as only the pricier categories remained available, the report said.
“The opening match and the final were even oversubscribed ten times,” FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke had said in a statement on June 5, adding that almost 60 percent of the tickets were bought by Brazilians. According to a Forbes report from Wednesday, while Brazilians remained the biggest buyers, American fans were next in line, being the second biggest group to have bought tickets for the biggest sporting event of the year.
The cheapest ticket for the event costs about $18.91 while the most expensive ticket sold by FIFA -- for the World Cup Final at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro -- is priced at $20,827, Forbes reported.
FIFA has already run into trouble with tickets in the run-up to the event as delays in building stadiums have led to nearly 1,400 fans being asked to change their tickets because seating arrangements were altered. But, the bigger challenge for the game’s governing body is the bribery allegations against it in connection to awarding hosting rights for the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.