FIFA launch late drive to sell 38,000 tickets

JOHANNESBURG, June 5 (Reuters) - FIFA will put 38,000 unsold World Cup tickets costing up to $300 on to the market after the global recession badly dented its traditionally lucrative corporate hospitality packages.

The tickets, released on Monday only four days before the World Cup kick-off, will range from $200-$300, football's governing body said on Saturday.

They include posh lounge seats and complimentary drinks but no food.

Jaime Byrom, head of FIFA's official travel agent MATCH, told Reuters last month that foreign demand for corporate hospitality packages, which usually make up a significant chunk of the organisation's revenue, had collapsed because of the global recession and alarmist reporting about crime.

Foreign financial services companies dominated the luxury hospitality packages at the last World Cup in Germany in 2006 but their demand has evaporated during the recession. Byrom said South African firms had stepped in to fill some of the gap.

At the other end of the scale, FIFA said on Saturday about 15,000 tickets, close to the pitch with partially obstructed views, would be sold at the lowest price of $20.

Both types of ticket would be available only for cash at FIFA ticket offices in South Africa and would not include the July 11 final, semi-finals, opening match and any games involving South Africa.

FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke said this week that revised seating plans and reallocation of tickets had freed an additional 100,000 seats for Africa's first World Cup, bringing the total to more than three million.

He said the proportion sold could exceed the 97 percent sold for the 2006 finals.