Carlos Valentin, center, reacts after learning that tickets for some of Brazil's World Cup soccer games are sold-out, as he stands outside the Ibirapuera Gym with other soccer fans hoping to buy tickets in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, June 4, 2014. Tickets for the World Cup opener were sold out fast, as fans lined up in the cold to try to buy what was left for the other matches. (AP Photo/Nelson Antoine)
Only 25,000 tickets go to fans at World Cup opener — FIFA says less than half of the tickets available for the opening match of the World Cup next week went directly to the general public, with most being reserved for commercial partners, broadcasters, local organizers and hospitality programs.
FIFA said Sunday that of the 61,600 tickets available for the Brazil-Croatia match on Thursday in Sao Paulo, only 25,636 were sold to the general public. About 10,000 additional tickets are going to fans through promotional activities.
Football's governing body said more than 1,500 tickets were reserved for VIPs, and about the same number is going to journalists.
More than 13,700 tickets went to hospitality programs, and 12,600 to commercial affiliates and broadcasters, who are expected to give away 85 percent of their share to fans and partners. Local organizers and the football community, including association members, received 6,600 tickets.
FIFA initially said the Itaquerao stadium in Sao Paulo would hold 68,000 people in the high-profile inaugural match, but the capacity was adjusted because of the seats reserved to journalists and to accommodate the 34 cameras needed to broadcast the match. FIFA denied that the decrease in capacity was caused by delays in construction at the Itaquerao.
The stadium has been one of the most problematic in the run-up to the World Cup, prompting a series of concerns to FIFA. Late last year, a crane hoisting a giant roofing structure into place collapsed, killing two workers and causing significant delays. Constructors have already said that the stadium's roof will not be fully completed for the tournament.
China soccer fans look at a list of tickets for sale for World Cup soccer games at the Ibirapuera Gym in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, June 4, 2014. Tickets for the World Cup opener were sold out fast, as fans lined up in the cold to try to buy what was left for the other matches. (AP Photo/Nelson Antoine)
FIFA is also worried about the recent wave of strikes in Sao Paulo, especially by operators of the subway line that will takes fans and journalists to the Itaquerao.
"FIFA and the local organizing committee rely on the urban mobility plans presented by host city Sao Paulo, which include not only the usual means of transportation but also contingency plans in case of one of the modals is unavailable or partially working," football's governing body said.
The strike by subway operators created havoc in the city's traffic last week, nearly halting South America's biggest city.
"What FIFA and the LOC always stress is the importance of fans to plan their way to the stadium and leave early for the match," FIFA said.
On Saturday, FIFA said that 1,376 people will have to change their tickets because they were handed out before work at the stadiums was completed. It said seating configurations changed after technical teams established exactly where the media tribunes and broadcast equipment had to be placed in each of the 12 venues.
A total of about 3.3 million tickets will be sold for the first World Cup in Brazil since 1950. More than 2.5 million tickets had already been allocated, including through the hospitality programs.