World Football Federation FIFA said Tuesday that it had received 506,000 online applications for World Cup 2010 tickets. The applications came from 140 countries around the world, suggesting this could be one of the most lucrative World Cups ever, despite the global recession. South Africa sent the most applications, closely followed by Great Britain, USA, Germany, Brazil and Australia. Not surprisingly, FIFA officials remain confident this world soccer climax will enjoy its usual fanfare.

“The footballing public are a very peculiar group and they might not be too bothered about the global recession or even losing their jobs to go and follow their teams at the World Cup,” Chairman of FIFA’s World Cup Ticketing Committee David Will told reporters in a media briefing. “It is our aim to sell every ticket in every stadium for every match.”

Last year, FIFA generously agreed to give away World Cup tickets free to African fans but the remainder will be hunted avidly by soccer fans worldwide. World Cup 2010 tickets will be sold via several phases. From a total of three million tickets, approximately 740,000 will be made available for an initial sales phase that ends on April 15, 2009. Online applications will be taken until midnight on March 31. A random ballot will be held to determine successful applicants.

The physical tickets will be issued in April 2010 via automated teller machines located outside South African World Cup stadiums. Successful applicants may purchase a maximum of four tickets per game for up to seven games. A random draw for over-subscribed games will be held April 15, at the conclusion of the first phase. Four further sales phases will occur for 2010 FIFA World Cup tickets. The second phase will be from May 4 to November 16, 2009. Tickets in this second phase will be distributed on a first come-first served basis, subject to (ever-decreasing) availability.