The Japan World Cup Organizing Committee reversed its policy Sunday and sold tickets online for the day’s match between England and Sweden, some said adding to the confusion and frustration over ticket distribution for World Cup soccer finals.
Fans who bought online tickets and those still waiting, due to delivery delays, to receive purchased tickets, packed ticket centers from the morning for the supposedly sold out game at Saitama Stadium.
After revealing early Sunday that tickets were still available, JAWOC said it would change its policy and sell tickets for the day’s match on the Web site of soccer’s world governing body FIFA.
JAWOC had initially decided not to sell tickets on match days for security reasons, in line with FIFA regulations. It reversed its position after discovering that some tickets offered abroad remained unsold. According to JAWOC, it accepted online orders for the 2,600 tickets until Sunday at noon for the England-Sweden match.
Junichi Iwanaga, a 23-year-old company employee of Kanagawa Prefecture, said he was not initially able to gain access to the Web site Saturday night, but finally succeeded in buying a ticket after trying for three hours.
Some fans were pleasantly surprised at the opportunity to get tickets so soon before the game. A man who got a ticket at one of the centers said, “I did not expect to get a ticket for such a popular game so easily.”
Some, however, were bewildered and at their wits’ end.
One fan staged a sit-in in front of a ticket center, asking passersby to sell him a ticket. Another frustrated fan said his ticket for the Tuesday match between Japan and Belgium had not yet arrived.
“I was told by a clerk to come back later,” he said.
For Sunday’s match between Argentina and Nigeria at Kashima Stadium in Ibaraki Prefecture, JAWOC offered 1,900 tickets on the Web site from Saturday evening to midnight.
There were many empty seats at two reportedly sold out soccer matches Saturday: the Ireland-Cameroon match at Niigata Stadium Big Swan and the one between Germany and Saudi Arabia at Sapporo Dome.
JAWOC estimates there will be about 2,000 empty seats at each upcoming match. Some tickets distributed to each nation’s soccer association and sponsor companies were not sold or not given to ticket buyers.
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