World Cup tickets five times oversubscribed
By Matthias Sobolewski
BERLIN, March 17 (Reuters) - Ticket orders for the 2006 World Cup in Germany will be five times oversubscribed in the first sales window that ends on March 31, the organising committee has said.
The number of ticket orders will reach the four million mark by March 31 with only 812,000 tickets up for grabs in the first of five windows which opened on February 1.
"That means only about every fifth ticket order can be filled," Wolfgang Niersbach, vice president of Germany's organising committee, told a group of Berlin journalists.
Applications received by March 31 will go into a draw on April 15, with the order in which they are made making no difference.
Niersbach said about 85 percent of the tickets ordered had come from people inside Germany, hosts of the 32-team tournament that runs from June 9 to July 9, 2006.
"The fears that most of the tickets would go to foreigners is without foundation," Niersbach said.
Applications have come in from over 100 countries around the world including Burkina Faso and Macao.
However, some fan groups abroad have complained that those without a German bank account or a credit card from a company sponsoring the tournament suffer more inconvenience as they have to use bank transfers.
Fans can apply for a maximum of 28 higher-priced tickets -- up to four tickets per match for up to seven matches. For the cheapest category tickets, fans can apply for a maximum of two tickets for up to three matches.
Organisers are promising a further 300,000 tickets for fans in subsequent sales up to January 2006.
Only about a third of the 2.93 million tickets will be guaranteed for public sale with national associations and sponsors among others offered the rest of the seats and any unused tickets going back on public sale.
Niersbach warned that despite the high demand for tickets it was possible there would be empty seats at some matches.
"It can't be ruled out that some seats will be empty in the stadiums because sponsors may have more tickets than they actually use," he said. "We can only react to that if we know in advance about tickets that won't be used."
To prevent large areas of empty seats, as happened in South Korea and Japan four years ago, "reserve spectator contigents" could be allowed in shortly before kick offs, he added.