FIFA to distribute 20,000 free tickets for Women’s World Cup in New Zealand amid slow sales

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In response to sluggish ticket sales for the Women’s World Cup games in New Zealand, FIFA has announced that it will distribute 20,000 free tickets. The matches are set to take place in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, and Dunedin. The action follows the apparent lukewarm interest in the country, with the majority of the 1 million tickets sold so far being claimed by co-hosts Australia.

Australia’s ‘Matildas’ team, who are viewed as a genuine contender for the title, have drawn significant fan attention, contributing to the disproportionate share of the ticket sales. The scenario in New Zealand, on the other hand, has been quite different. Sarai Bareman, FIFA’s chief women’s football officer, has acknowledged the difficulties in attracting fans to football stadiums in New Zealand. The relatively low profile of the sport in the country coupled with the ‘Football Ferns’ track record – having not won a match in five previous World Cup appearances – have reportedly impacted sales.

Further, in an attempt to stimulate interest, Xero, the official partner of this year’s World Cup, is providing an additional 5,000 complimentary tickets across the four host cities in New Zealand. This combined effort from FIFA and Xero is aimed at fostering an environment that encourages football enthusiasm and broadens the sport’s appeal.

To bolster the promotional efforts, former New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, is also playing a key role in rallying support. Eager to drive local participation, she expressed her excitement about New Zealand hosting the prestigious event in a recent Instagram post. Ardern, appealing to both football novices and experts, urged her followers to “jump online and join in”, highlighting the availability of tickets for matches across the host cities.

The first match for New Zealand, often affectionately referred to as the ‘Kiwis’, is scheduled against the former champions, Norway, in Auckland on July 20. Despite the current state of affairs, the hope is that the concerted efforts from FIFA, Xero, and prominent figures like Ardern, will ignite a spark of football fever among New Zealanders and lead to an increased spectator turnout at the games.

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