FIFA said people who didn’t show up or ask soccer’s ruling body to resell their World Cup tickets are to blame for banks of empty seating at games that were classified as sold out.
Even high-profile matchups during the first six days of the tournament -- such as England against Italy, and Germany versus Portugal -- have encountered the problem.
“Most are uncollected tickets because people who have not been coming to the matches have not put them on the resale platform,” FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fischer told reporters at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium.
Defending champion Spain needs to get at least a point against Chile at the Maracana tomorrow to remain in the competition. The game has also been declared a sellout.
Fischer said gaps aren’t because sponsors and broadcasters aren’t using their ticket allocations. Sponsors were criticized during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and at the London Olympics two years ago for not taking up their seats.
About 2.2 million tickets went on general sale, with a further 800,000 going to FIFA affiliates and 32 qualified soccer federations.
According to FIFA, Argentina’s 2-1 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina on June 15 at the Maracana was the only game among the first 14 of the tournament to have 100 percent occupancy. The others had attendance of 92 percent of capacity or more, with 48,173 out of a stadium capacity of 51,900 attending the Netherland’s 5-1 rout of Spain in Salvador on June 13.
Ticketholders for games in cities such as Manaus and Cuiaba -- the capital of farming region Mato Grosso where cattle outnumber people by nine to one -- are struggling to attract buyers on the secondary market, according to ticket aggregator SeatGeek.
“The average price paid for a ticket to a group stage game in Sao Paulo is $1,268,” SeatGeek said via e-mail. “Tickets to group stage games in Cuiaba weigh in at a much smaller average of $198.”
FIFA’s $4.5 billion income from the World Cup smashed its 2012 revenue forecast of $3.8 billion. The tournament organizer is spending about $2 billion to stage the event.