Fifa’s website crashed after more than one million Indian football fans attempted to buy tickets for today’s (Wednesday’s) U17 World Cup semi-final between England and Brazil.
The late surge on Monday came because the last-four game was switched to Kolkata because the pitch at Guwahati, the original venue, was waterlogged.
Fifa has confirmed that over one million fans logged on to attempt to buy the 65,000 available tickets, with many confronted with messages saying they were behind as many as 100,000 in the queue.
Tickets went on sale at 8.30pm Indian time but more than 95,000 were waiting in line within 10 minutes. A number of fans were left frustrated as Fifa’s server struggled to cope with demand. A small minority were deducted money from credit cards without receiving confirmation of their ticket via e-mail.
Fifa apologised to fans, and in a statement said: “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.
“Collectively, we are very sorry that a number of fans… experienced technical difficulties, a huge queue, and in some cases, a deduction of monies without confirmation or ticket.
“Throughout the build-up to this tournament, and during, we have been overwhelmed by the positive response to this first Fifa tournament hosted in India.
“It is a big regret that we could not facilitate the request of each of the million-plus fans who wanted to attend tomorrow’s match.”
The surge in ticket demand comes towards the end of a tournament that has been dogged by poor sales. The organising committee defended its ticketing strategy earlier this month after empty seats were visible at games deemed to be sold out.