World Cup ticket applications pass one million

JOHANNESBURG - Applications for World Cup tickets passed the one-million mark five days before the first phase of sales closes, FIFA said on Friday.

The figure excludes applications made by South African residents through bank branches across the country, world football's governing body added in a statement.

Online applications had been received from more than 160 countries, led by South Africa, Britain and the United States.

The first sales phase, during which some 743,000 tickets are available to the general public, closes next Tuesday and a lottery in mid-April will determine the successful applicants.

FIFA said the number of applications had far exceeded their expectations although at the same stage of the sales process for the 2006 finals in Germany, six million applications had been received.

A second sales phase runs from May 4 to November 16 when tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, said FIFA.

Ticket sales for the Confederations Cup, an eight-team test event being held in South Africa this June, had increased by 10 percent since a marketing campaign was launched, a FIFA spokesman said on Friday.

However, ticket sales had yet to reach the halfway mark for the tournament, despite the participation of World Cup winners Italy, European champions Spain and Brazil.