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Fifa U17 World Cup organisers hit back in row over empty seats

The organising committee for the ongoing Fifa U17 World Cup has defended its ticketing strategy after empty seats were visible at games deemed to be sold out.

The Fifa tournament, which began on Friday, features 24 national teams, including England, Brazil and Germany.

Prior to India’s opening match against the US on October 6, the local organising committee and the government claimed that all tickets had been sold and the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi would be full. However, large gaps were clearly visible at the 60,000-capacity arena.

While the organising committee has been criticised for seats being left empty, officials claim they were unable to sell tickets for many areas due to deals with sponsors and other bodies.

“All the tickets that have been put up for sale, are the maximum number of tickets that can be sold at each venue discounting below mentioned commitments. When a venue appears sold out, it reflects the position of tickets that have been put out for sale,” the LOC said in a statement.

“Discounting the contractual obligations with the host association, all the participating teams, all the 13 commercial partners of the tournament, the host broadcaster, the signatories of host city, stadium and training site agreements and other stakeholders with which there are contracts with regards to the tournament to provide tickets.”

The Times of India reports that the government had blocked the sale of tickets early and reserved more than 25,000 seats for the children of selected schools of the National Capital Region.