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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

23.5 million tickets sought in latest WC sale

Doha- FIFA said Friday that 23.5 million World Cup tickets were requested in the latest round of sales for the tournament that starts in Qatar in less than seven months. Applications from Argentina, Brazil, England, France, Mexico, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United States dominated, the world body said highlighting the "enormous demand".


The most popular games are the final on December 18 alongside some of the group games which are already known: Argentina v Mexico, Argentina v Saudi Arabia, England v the United States, and Poland v Argentina, FIFA said in a statement. For matches where demand exceeds the number of tickets available, the requests will go into a random lottery.


All the successful applicants will be told from May 31. Any remaining tickets will then go on general sale on a first-come-first-served basis. Ticket prices are on average about 30 percent higher than for the Russia World Cup in 2018. The cheapest tickets are for Qataris and the army of migrant workers in the state who will pay as little as $10 to watch a first-round group match.


But for the final, the most expensive tickets cost more than $1,600 -- a 45 percent hike in 2018. Some 804,186 tickets were snapped up in the first round of sales in January-February. This 23-day window for applications was higher, as it followed the World Cup draw on April 1 which revealed when and where each team will play. About two million tickets are available to the general public, with 1.2 million others going to sponsors and other backers. The first match between Senegal and Netherlands is on November 21 and the final on December 18 at the 80,000-capacity Lusail stadium. Qatar is predicting that up to 1.4 million people will visit the wealthy Gulf state for the first World Cup in an Arab country. Qatar has spent billions of dollars building seven new stadiums and refurbishing an eighth for the tournament.


FIFA president Gianni Infantino has promised it will be the "best-ever" World Cup and the global body is looking to the healthy ticket sales to back its case. Qatari organizers have highlighted progress on rights since the World Cup was awarded in 2010, and said critics were trying to undermine the Arab region's right to hold the event.


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