RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — FIFA and the local organizing committee are issuing a strong appeal to Brazilian fans to pick up their tickets ahead of the Confederations Cup to avoid the prospect of people lining up by the thousands on match days.
While workers are still putting the finishing touches on stadiums two days before the World Cup warm-up tournament begins, it now appears that handing out tickets is also a big concern.
"There are thousands of people who have paid for their tickets and not collected them," FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said Thursday. "They need to do so now. ... At the World Cup it will be even worse so we need people to understand that."
Valcke, who is French, noted that in Europe fans like to get their hands on their tickets as soon as they purchase them, while in Brazil people are content to pick them up at the last minute immediately before the match begins.
"That cannot happen here mainly for security reasons," Valcke said. "We don't want to have thousands of people collecting their tickets on match day."
Three times the number of tickets have been sold for this event compared to the last Confederations Cup in South Africa four years ago. Attention has been raised by the Brazilian league being put on hold during the tournament.
All three group matches featuring Brazil are already sold out, highlighted by the opener against Japan in Brasilia on Saturday.
"I urge all fans that will go Brasilia to arrive early to avoid standing in lines," said Jose Maria Marin, president of the local organizing committee and the Brazilian football confederation. "This is extremely important."
Tickets for other matches not involving Brazil are still available.
Spread over six cities, the tournament is divided into two groups. Also in Group A with Brazil and Japan are Italy and Mexico, while Group B features world and European champion Spain, Tahiti, Uruguay and Nigeria.
"It will be the largest championship here since the 1950 World Cup," Marin said.
As for the last-minute construction work, FIFA President Sepp Blatter was not surprised.
"In all the facilities we are going to use now there have been test competitions and it has shown that it has worked," Blatter said. "I have been in competitions where (for) the opening match of the real competition one hour before they are still working. ... So to me it is not a surprise that they are still working two days before it begins."
Only two of the stadiums were completed by the original deadline in December. At the venues in Brasilia and in Rio de Janeiro, home of the final at the renovated Maracana Stadium on June 30, there was time for only one test event.
"Let us see, let us hope," Blatter said.
This tournament will also mark the first time goal-line technology is used in a major FIFA tournament, and Blatter is convinced it will work well.
"It's not one solution, it is THE solution," he said. "It will assist the referees in cases of conflict. ... (The system is) completely reliable."
The tournament features the champions of each continental confederation, plus the hosts and World Cup holder. Italy qualified as the European runner-up since Spain already had a spot as world champion.
"They are all champions so if they win they will become the champion of the champions," Valcke said.