World football governing body FIFA have confirmed that over one million fans logged on to attempt to buy tickets for the England versus Brazil semi-final clash after a decision was made to switch the highly-anticipated game to Kolkata because the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati was heavily waterlogged following torrential rain.
With over 1,000km between the two cities, the vast majority of fans who had purchased tickets in Guwahati were left cursing the torrential rain that ruined their chance to see the spectacle.
But it was a bonus for fans who lived in Kolkata, with the Salt Lake Stadium set to stage its ninth game of the tournament on Wednesday lunchtime UK time.
However, many who logged on to FIFA’s ticket portal to buy one of the 66,000 tickets placed on sale at short notice were to be left disappointed with many confronted with messages saying they were behind as many as 100,000 in the queue.
To put this into some perspective, around 3.5million football fans globally requested tickets in the first sales phase for the entire World Cup in Russia next year.
Tickets went on sale at 8.30pm Indian time but by 8.40pm, over 95,000 – more than the overall capacity of the stadium – were waiting in line.
It proved a game of patience for fans, with some sticking it out for hours and eventually obtaining their tickets as others logged out of the queue.
A number of fans also experienced the frustration of technical difficulties as the server struggled to cope with the weight of people logging on.
A small minority were deducted money from credit cards without receiving confirmation of their ticket via e-mail.
FIFA apologised for the problems in a statement relased on Tuesday: ‘Following the decision to reschedule the semi-final… the logistical challenges were numerous.
‘From the moments tickets were put on sale at 20.30 IST until today, more than one million people tried to access the ticketing portal of the service provider.
‘Tickets for the match have now SOLD OUT, and both FIFA and the LOC are incredibly grateful to every single fan who tried, successfully or not, to purchase a ticket.’
Kolkata’s Salt Lake Stadium, which will also host the final and third-place play-off this weekend, has seen some of the highest attendances of a well-supported tournament.
A crowd of 66,613 attended the Brazil vs Germany quarter-final last Sunday, within touching distance of the capacity of 66,687 for this tournament.
The switch of venue caused inconvenience for both the England and Brazil teams, who had already arrived in Guwahati and were due to train in the stadium on Monday night.
The match is scheduled for 12:30 (Nigerian time).