Demand for tickets to the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia is booming in China with the tournament just over seven months away.

Despite China not qualifying for the tournament, more than 10,000 tickets have been booked by the country’s football fans. More than 2,000 hospitality packages for premier match experiences have also been snapped up, according to Beijing-based Shankai Sports.

As China’s only Fifa-authorised sales agent for the 2018 World Cup hospitality programme, Shankai hosted a workshop to present five levels of packages, ranging in price from $850 to $25,000 (£19,000/€21,000).

Zheng Lai, vice-president of Shankai, said the unprecedented demand for tickets underscores the World Cup’s popularity in China.

“With or without their national team, Chinese fans’ passion for the tournament and their interest in going to the World Cup to watch their favourite players in the flesh is always strong,” he said.

Fifa announced that 3.5m ticket requests were made during the first sales period, with Chinese applicants at the forefront. Two million requests were made in the final week of the period as many nations confirmed their qualification.

China has not qualified for the Fifa World Cup since the 2002 event in South Korea and Japan. The 2018 World Cup, which begins on June 14, will be held across 11 different cities, including Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.