According to Fifa, 145 000 tickets had been sold since the fifth and final sales phase began on Thursday morning, 82 000 through FNB branches, 33 000 via Website/Call Centre and 30 000 via the 11 official ticketing centres.
There were no tickets available in either Cape Town or Durban, and only a few Category 1 and 2 tickets left over for matches in Johannesburg and Pretoria.
“We are very pleased with the interest and with the latest figures,” said Horst Schmidt, chairman of Fifa’s ticketing sub-committee.
But sales for games to be held in smaller host cities such as Rustenberg, Polokwane and Nelspruit remained poor, raising the embarrassing prospect of World Cup games being played in half-full stadiums.
Large numbers of tickets remained unsold for several of the less attractive group games such as Slovakia v New Zealand and Honduras v Chile, amid concerns that foreign tourists had been put off by the cost and difficulty of getting to games in some cities.
More tickets were expected to be released in the coming weeks. Twelve percent of all match tickets had been set aside for the national football associations of the 32 competing nations, but Fifa conceded not all of the allocations had sold out, and would be released back on to the market.
Thursday’s sale was marred by computer problems that caused long delays, leaving thousands of fans ticketless after hours in the queue.
In Cape Town, hundreds of fans who had camped overnight at the Foreshore were turned away after the centre could only process a handful of applications.
Fifa released over half a million tickets for the fifth and final sales phase. Around 600 FNB branches nationwide and eleven purpose-built ticketing centres were made available.
Today, sales points at 18 Shoprite/Checkers stores were due to open. In Cape Town, stores in Plumstead and Century City were available.
Organisers said the surge in ticket sales showed interest in the World Cup was picking up.
“They said no one wanted to buy these tickets,” Danny Jordaan, chief executive officer of the LOC, said.
“They said we would be forced to give the tickets away. They said we would have to pay people to watch the matches. Well, it looks like the tickets are flying off the shelf because people want these tickets badly.”
President Jacob Zuma was pleased about the soccer fever. “He is quite confident now that this will encourage more people to buy tickets and certainly South Africans would be attending more soccer matches in large numbers,” his spokes-man Vincent Magwenya said.
Speaking from Brazil, Magwenya said Zuma commended the decision by the organisers to consider economic restraints and drop the prices slightly so that more people could enjoy the World Cup as spectators. Independent online