x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Club World Cup final is a sell-out

The organisers behind the Fifa Club World Cup apologise for "severe delays" in the distribution of tickets to some 3,200 people. Tickets remain available for all other matches.

ABU DHABI // Tickets for the final match of the Fifa Club World Cup have sold out, the tournament's organisers revealed yesterday. If the Club World Cup goes according to form, the final would pit FC Barcelona against Estudiantes of Argentina, champions of Europe and South America, respectively. The championship match, on December 19, will be held at Zayed Sports City, where seating capacity is 43,000.

Barcelona and Estudiantes each were seeded directly into the semi-finals of the seven-club, eight-match, 11-day event. Barcelona's first match will be on December 16 against one of three teams: Al Ahli FC of the UAE, Auckland City FC of New Zealand or Atlante FC of Mexico. Estudiantes' first match will be on December 15 against TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo or Pohang Steelers FC from South Korea.

More than 130,000 tickets have been sold for the tournament, organisers said. There were 203,000 tickets available to the public. Thomas Gurtner, the tournament director, said tickets remain available at Marina Mall in the capital for all other matches. "We're delighted that the final has sold out already," he said in a release. "It's a great indication of the public's enthusiasm for the tournament."

The Local Organising Committee for the tournament yesterday e-mailed international ticket-holders requesting that they pick up their passes upon arrival in the capital. The 1,259 fans outside the GCC were awaiting home delivery, but the change was made due to "unforeseen ticket production and delivery delays", according to a ticket distribution update released yesterday. The tickets are available at the Fifa Football House on Delma Street.

"It's regrettable that we weren't able to deliver tickets to some international fans and have had to request a small number of people to pick up their tickets when they get to Abu Dhabi," Mr Gurtner said. "Our feeling is that what is most important to our international guests is to be guaranteed of receiving their tickets." Mr Gurtner also acknowledged there was "some concern" from UAE and GCC customers about ticket delivery over the Eid and National Day holidays.

"We contacted all relevant UAE and GCC customers to confirm that tickets will be delivered as planned," he said. Any packages that fans were not able to receive by Aramex over two occasions will be sent directly to the Fifa Football House. Ryan D'Silva, 17, spent nearly Dh2,000 (US$545) at Marina Mall on five tickets for the Barcelona semi-final match and another five for the final. He was worried by the delays.

"Of course I'm a bit anxious because I paid money for this," the Indian university student said. "Right now it's a holiday and I have other commitments." Still, there was good news for football fans who purchased tickets with credit cards but experienced problems with payment authorisation. Their orders have been prepared and are ready at the Football House, according to the organisers. To collect the tickets, the organising committee advised those customers to bring their ticket booking confirmation e-mails, photo identification and payment in cash or credit card.

mkwong@thenational.ae