Sao Paulo, Brazil: Tickets for next year's FIFA World Cup went on sale online on Tuesday with 16 of the 64 matches immediately seeing a high number of applicants, including the opening match in Sao Paulo and the final in Rio de Janeiro.
FIFA's website showed there were more ticket applicants than the number of seats available in all four price categories for the opener and the final at Maracana Stadium. That means the chances of securing a ticket will depend on a random selection draw conducted by football's governing body in October, after all applications are turned in.
"The respective ticket product is already heavily over-subscribed 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."
The other matches had a high demand for tickets just in the cheapest category, available only to Brazilians. Among those matches were the semi-finals in Belo Horizonte and Sao Paulo, as well as all of Brazil's first-round matches.
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 on Tuesday. FIFA said on its website that some fans had to be placed in a virtual queue "due to an exceedingly high demand for access to the ticketing page".
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 countries with the most applicants were Brazil, Argentina, United States, Australia and England.
FIFA 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 month-long 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 on November 5 on a first-come, first-served basis. Another phase will begin on December 8 after the World Cup draw determines where and when each nation will play. The tournament begins on 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.