FIFA to start World Cup ticket sales on August 20

World's football governing body announced here Friday that it will begin selling tickets for next year's World Cup in 12 Brazilian host cities on August 20 via its www.fifa.com website.

Some 330 days before the tournament is to open in Sao Paulo, FIFA marketing director Thierry Weil outlined a strategy under which three million tickets will be sold in three phases involving four price categories. In the first phase, tickets will be allocated after a random selection draw period running from August 20 to October 10 and there will be a first come, first served period from November 5 to 28.

The same procedure will apply in the second phase where tickets will be awarded after a random draw period from December 8 2013 to Jan 30 2014, followed by a first come, first served period from next Febuary 26 to next April 1. Finally, there will be a last-minute sales phase on a first come, first served basis from April 15 to July 13, the day of the final. Weil said 701,079 tickets will be available for international fans and Brazilians.

Another 500,000 will be exclusively reserved for Brazilians, including discount tickets for students, the elderly and low-income people, and 100,OOO complimentary tickets for the government and stadium construction workers. "It is only the second time that we give discount tickets for the World Cup," he added, noting that the first time was also in Brazil for the 1950 World Cup. Brazil's deputy sports minister Luis Fernandes described the FIFA concessions on discounted tickets as a "very important gain" that aligns the FIFA sales system with Brazilian law. In the international category, prices start at $90 for group-stage matches except tickets for the opening match which cost $220.

The most expensive ticket for the final, scheduled for July 13 in Rio's iconic Maracana stadium, will fetch $990. For Brazilian residents the cheapest discount ticket will go for $15 for group matches while the most expensive discount ticket (for the final) will sell for $83. Weil described as a "real success" last month's Confederations Cup, for which 804,122 tickets were sold. The final (won by Brazil against Spain 3-0) "was the best game I have ever seen," he told a press briefing. But he stressed that one of the lessons learnt was that stadium delivery "needs to be on time".

Ricardo Trade, chief executive of Brazil's Local Organizing Committee for the World Cup, dismissed suggestions that, as happened for the Confederations Cup, some stadiums might be delivered behind schedule. "There is no plan B. There's nothing to worry about. We'll meet the schedule," he told AFP. And Weil said last month's street protests across Brazil "have not influenced the (ticket) price structure." ga/cw

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