No World Cup tickets on sale despite empty seats


No World Cup tickets are available for purchase on FIFA’s official ticket portal despite swathes of empty seats being clearly visible at many matches during the tournament, The Athletic can reveal.

While many tickets were sold long in advance of the first match, FIFA now is in its “last-minute sales phase” where additional tickets can be bought at short notice. All knockout matches are listed as sold out. There is a link to an official resale platform but few appeared to be available.

For the group stage matches, however, some are listed as sold out but many others listed as “low availability” suggesting tickets are on sale.

The Athletic spoke to multiple Portuguese and Ghanaian fans in Qatar who complained they could not buy tickets at short notice on the FIFA Portal for the clash between the two teams but in the stadium there appeared to be many empty seats.

Wales versus Iran on Friday is listed as “low availability”. Yet the three categories of ticket, ranging in price from 250 Qatari Riyals ($69) to ($210), are all greyed out and are unavailable to buy.

This is also true for games much further in the future — for example, Costa Rica vs Germany on Thursday, December 1 is listed as “low availability” yet ticket categories are greyed out.

One exception is Japan vs Spain where the 250 QAR tickets are not greyed out. However, when they are added to the basket, it comes up as “unavailable”.

Not a single ticket for a single game was available to buy for any World Cup game when The Athletic investigated the online portal, with these findings verified by a user who already holds match tickets.

There have been suggestions that FIFA’s official attendance figures are not accurate.

For example, the attendance for today’s for Switzerland v Cameroon was given as 39,089 in a stadium capacity of 44,325, yet there were huge numbers of empty seats clearly visible, suggesting a far lower actual attendance.

Similarly, Portugal’s clash with Ghana was reported as almost full capacity yet thousands of empty seats were visible. The VIP sections seemed particularly empty, while The Athletic’s journalists who have attended several matches have reported that stadiums often appear to clear out at half-time.

The lack of availability for tickets at games in stadiums which do not appear full could be explained by people buying tickets for matches and not turning up.

This cannot be confirmed, however. The Athletic approached FIFA and the Qatar World Cup organisers for comment.



Why some World Cup crowds have been above official stadium capacity

(Photo: Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)


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