DOHA, Qatar, April 29 – FIFA said on Friday that 23.5 million World Cup tickets had been requested in the latest round of sales for the tournament which begins in Qatar in less than seven months.
Applications from Argentina, Brazil, England, France, Mexico, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United States dominated, the world body said, highlighting the “huge demand”.
The most popular matches are the final on December 18 alongside some of the already known group matches: Argentina v Mexico, Argentina v Saudi Arabia, England v USA and Poland v Argentina, the report said. FIFA in a statement.
For matches where demand exceeds the number of tickets available, requests will go into a random lottery. All successful candidates will be informed from May 31. All remaining tickets will then go on general sale on a first-come, first-served basis.
Ticket prices are on average about 30% higher than for the Russia World Cup in 2018. The cheapest tickets are for Qataris and the state’s migrant labor army who will only pay $10 for attend a first-round group game.
But for the final, the most expensive tickets cost over $1,600, up 45% from 2018.
Some 804,186 tickets were purchased in the first round of sales in January-February.
Demand for this 23-day window for applications was higher, as it followed the World Cup draw on April 1 which revealed when and where each team will play.
About two million tickets are available to the general public, with another 1.2 million going to sponsors and other backers.
The first match between Senegal and the Netherlands will take place on November 21 and the final on December 18 at the 80,000 capacity Lusail stadium.
Qatar expects up to 1.4 million people to visit the wealthy Gulf state for the first World Cup in an Arab country.
Qatar has spent billions of dollars building seven new stadiums and renovating an eighth for the tournament.
FIFA has been criticized for awarding the tournament to a country whose rights of migrant workers, women and LGBT people have come under fire.
But FIFA President Gianni Infantino has promised it will be the ‘best’ World Cup ever and the world body is looking to healthy ticket sales to support his case.
Qatari organizers pointed to progress on rights since the World Cup was awarded in 2010 and said critics were trying to undermine the Arab region’s right to stage the event.
Groups of supporters, particularly in Europe, have expressed concerns about ticket prices, accommodation, the availability of beer and whether it is safe for gay people to go to Qatar – where alcohol and homosexuality are illegal.
Organizers said only that special measures will be taken for drinking in fan zones and other designated areas, and leniency will be enforced on social laws. They insist that all fans will be ‘welcome’ to the World Cup.