Two-thirds of World Cup matches sold out

This photo released by Portal da Copa shows Arena da Amazonia stadium on the day of its inauguration in Manaus in the state of Amazonas, Brazil, Sunday, March 9, 2014. Three stadiums still have to be finished, including the one hosting the opener in Sao Paulo in about three months. (AP Photo/Jose Zamith, Portal da Copa)

SAO PAULO (AP) — More than two-thirds of the World Cup matches have been sold out less than three hours after FIFA opened new ticket sales on Wednesday.

Tickets for all Brazil matches were gone in about an hour, as were the ones for all the quarterfinals and nearly all second-round matchups in the June 12-July 13 tournament.

Only about 15 matches involving teams with less of a World Cup tradition remained available for purchase on FIFA's website some eight hours after the sales started.

This phase is on a first-come, first-serve basis, and the four highest-demand matches of the 64 did not offer tickets — the opener in Sao Paulo, the final at the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, and the semifinals in Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte.

About 345,000 tickets were available in this stage, which closes on April 1. Football's governing body said 203,330 tickets were sold in the first five hours of sales, and the five countries with the most ticket requests were Brazil (143,085), United States (16,059), Australia (5,357), Colombia (4,574) and Argentina (3,800).

FIFA is expected to release more tickets for all matches in the last-minute sales phase that begins on April 15.

Some Brazilian fans complained of the long wait to purchase tickets on Wednesday, saying it took nearly an hour just to access the online sales platform. FIFA said it had to place fans on a virtual line because of the high demand.

Of the 3.3 million tickets available for the first World Cup in Brazil since 1950, more than 2.3 million had been allocated before this latest round of sales, mostly to Brazilian fans.

All matches for England, Germany and the United States also sold out fast on Wednesday, according to FIFA's ticketing website.

Only one second-round match was still available shortly after sales began, in the capital of Brasilia, but it also sold out later in the day. The third-place match there, usually a low-demand event, also sold out.

The matches with the least demand were Nigeria vs. Bosnia in the wetlands city of Cuiaba and Greece vs. Ivory Coast in Fortaleza, which was one of the host cities with the most tickets still available. Matches in Sao Paulo, South America's largest city, were the fastest to sell out.

There were also many tickets available for Russia vs. South Korea in Cuiaba and Bosnia vs. Iran in the northeastern city of Salvador.


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