World Cup tickets: 1M sold in 7 hours
SAO PAULO -- It was a frenzied start to FIFA's attempt to fill the stands for next year's World Cup in Brazil as fans applied Tuesday for more than 1 million tickets in just seven hours.
But it will be some time before they know whether they'll be among those lucky enough to get seats to football's signature event. Applicants won't hear back until October, after FIFA holds a random selection draw on all the requests.
More than 163,000 people requested the tickets online in the first seven hours.
At the end of the first day of sales, the website of football's governing body, FIFA, showed that there were more ticket applications than the number of seats available in all four price categories for 12 of the 64 matches, including the opener in Sao Paulo and the final at Rio de Janeiro's Maracana Stadium.
Demand also was high in all price categories for the semifinals, and 44 matches had too many requests at least for the cheaper category tickets, which are available only to Brazilians.
FIFA said the highest numbers of applications so far have come from Brazil, Argentina, the U.S., Chile and England.
"The respective ticket product is already heavily oversubscribed and therefore, at that point in time, the success of the application appears very unlikely," FIFA said of the high-demand categories. "There are vastly more ticket applicants seeking tickets than there are tickets presently available for the general public."
Prices for the final will go from $440-$990, although Brazilian fans will pay $165 in the cheaper category. Brazilians over the age of 60, local students and members of some social programs will be allowed to pay about $82 for a ticket. Prices for the opener in Sao Paulo go from $220-$495, with Brazilians paying $80 and discounted tickets costing $40.
About 500,000 tickets in total were set aside for the category available solely to Brazilian citizens.
Applications quickly started pouring in after tickets went up for grabs at 1000 GMT (5 a.m. ET) Tuesday. Some fans had to be placed in a virtual queue "due to an exceedingly high demand for access to the ticketing page," FIFA said on its website.
FIFA's press office said that in the first hour of sales, there were 14,104 requests for a total of 81,821 tickets. Each applicant can request for up to four tickets for a maximum of seven matches.
The organization expects a total of nearly 3.3 million tickets to be available for the tournament in Brazil, but only about 1 million are offered in the first stage of sales.
FIFA said before sales opened that it expected a demand for tickets similar to that seen for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, when there were about seven applicants for every ticket of the monthlong tournament attended by more than 3.3 million fans. Almost 2 million tickets were sold to the general public for the World Cup in South Africa in 2010, although the number of applications during the first ticketing phase was significantly lower.
Sales of leftover tickets will begin Nov. 5 on a first-come, first-served basis. Another phase will begin Dec. 8 after the World Cup draw determines where and when each nation will play. The tournament begins June 12, with Brazil playing in the opener.
Nearly 800,000 fans attended the Confederations Cup in Brazil earlier this year, with ticket sales easily surpassing those for the warm-up tournament in South Africa in 2009 and in Germany in 2005.