1.6 million World Cup ticket applications made

JOHANNESBURG - More than 1.6 million ticket applications were received for next year's World Cup finals in South Africa by the end of the first sales phase, FIFA said on Wednesday. Only about 30 percent of a total of 1,635,136 ticket applications came from residents of the host country. The first sales phase closed at midnight on March 31. FIFA had made 743,000 tickets available to the general public via internet applications or for South African residents at local bank branches. World soccer's governing body was pleased with the demand despite the sales figure being much lower than the six million who applied for a similar number of tickets during the first phase of sales for the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany. All applications received will enter a random draw on April 15 to determine the allocation of tickets. A second sales phase, on a first come-first served basis, opens in May. "We want to encourage even more South Africans and Africans to apply for their World Cup tickets during the next sales phase, so they do not miss out on the unique once-in-a-lifetime experience," said Danny Jordaan, chief executive officer of the 2010 Organising Committee.