By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Ticket sales for the FIFA Confederations Cup in June are closing in on the 500,000 mark after the third phase of sales began last week. Despite some initial technical problems on Friday, the hindrance has not deterred people from making this the most popular Confederations Cup in history.
The tournament, an unofficial dress rehearsal for next year’s World Cup, is still four months away but is already proving a success. Overall tickets sales now stand at over 475,000, a record for the competition at this stage.
FIFA, the world football (soccer) governing body, published on their website this past Sunday that sales during the last week surpassed 51,000 in the first 48 hours. Almost 49,000 of those were bought by Brazilians eager for the arrival of the first major international football tournament since 1950.
“This sales process has allowed us to see just how much Brazilians want to see international football during the month of June. Ticket sales clearly show that the Brazilian people are behind all eight national sides who will compete across the six cities,” said Thierry Weil, the FIFA director of marketing.
The new phase of sales will last until April 7th but FIFA believe all tickets will be gone before the deadline with the return of Seleção coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, known as Felipão, who led Brazil to their fifth and last World Cup triumph in 2002.
To date, the most in demand matches are Mexico verses Italy, to be played at Rio’s Maracanã Stadium, Italy verses Japan, in Recife, and Spain verses Tahiti, also to be played at the Maracanã. Last week, Nigeria won the 2013 African Cup of Nations to decide the eighth team to compete.
Prior to the third stage of sales, a staggering 426,343 tickets had been sold. Brazil’s first two games, against Japan on June 15th in Brasília, and against Italy on June 22nd in Salvador, are sold out.
Meanwhile, the Brasil Voluntário program, an effort by Brazil to recruit volenteers for the event, has received over 36,000 applicants. Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Belo Horizonte were the most densely represented cities in the proposal. Prospective volunteers will be told if they were were successful next month.
From April 20th to May 11th those volunteers selected will be moved to the cities where they opted to work; Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Fortaleza, Recife, Rio de Janeiro or Salvador. For the tournament, 7,000 volunteers will be spread across the six locations.
Once the Confederations Cup finishes on June 30th registration will reopen in anticipation of further volunteers for the 2014 World Cup. Those who miss out this year need not worry.
People who applied on this occasion but were not chosen are still eligible for selection for the World Cup, when it is estimated around 50,000 volunteers will be needed. The World Cup is hosted in twelve cities rather than six and is predicted to bring ten times as many visitors to Brazil.
Confederations Cup Groups
GROUP A: Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Italy
GROUP B: Spain, Uruguay, Tahiti, Nigeria