The first phase of 2010 FIFA World Cup tickets for the upcoming soccer tournament in South Africa finished earlier this week, and a sizeable 1,635,136 applications were made for World Cup tickets. The overwhelming support left organizers FIFA with no doubt that the South African World Cup will be a huge event. Phase 1 of ticketing began 20 February, 2009. Total applications averaged 40,000 per day.

“This impressive total underlines the extraordinary level of interest all over the globe. Not surprisingly, the opening match and the final are most sought after. But we are delighted that the team-specific series is in such big demand, even before the actual fixtures for the tournament are known,” David Will, FIFA Ticketing Sub-Committee Chairman said in, a statement on FIFA’s official website.

Applicants were from 205 countries, the majority of whom sought tickets to the curtain-raiser and the World Cup Final on July 11, 2010, which will be staged in Johannesburg’s newly upgraded Soccer City stadium, with its increased capacity of almost 95,000.

World Cup ticket applications came mainly from residents of South Africa (30 percent). Surprisingly, the U.S. accounted for the second-largest number of applications, followed by the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy and Australia. Tickets are arrayed in categories; category numbers correspond to price, with lower numbers being more expensive. There are 4 categories. Category 3 tickets were the most commonly sought, probably reflecting real stadium proportions as much as spending power. An unprecedented gesture by FIFA – giving 120,000 World Cup tickets free to African fans – may have pushed up demand for the remaining tickets. Either way, FIFA ticketing officials were understandably happy with the massive demand during Phase 1.

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Successful applications will be determined via a random draw on April 15. Lucky applicants will be informed whether their World Cup odyssey will go ahead by the end of April. Demand for South Africa World Cup tickets is expected to reach trademark “fever-pitch” levels as the tournament approaches.