By Andrew Mills
Doha - More than 1.2 million tickets have been sold for Qatar's 2022 soccer World Cup, organisers said on Wednesday.
The most recent phase of ticket sales, a random selection draw, closed at the end of April with 23.5 million ticket requests coming in largest numbers from Argentina, Brazil, England, France, Mexico, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United States, according to FIFA, world soccer's governing body.
"I think about 1.2 million tickets have already been purchased. So people are actually buying and people are excited to come," said Hassan Al Thawadi, secretary general of Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy.
A total of two million ticket will be available during the28-day tournament in November and December, he said.
The next opportunity to purchase World Cup tickets will be on a first-come, first-served basis, but the date has not been announced yet.
World Cup qualification matches have now concluded and all32 available slots for the tournament have been secured.
Qatar hopes to attract 1.2 million visitors during the World Cup, nearly half of its population.
Organisers are working to avoid price-gouging fans, and,although the local business community should benefit, the tournament should be affordable and accessible for fans, Al Thawadi said on Wednesday at the Qatar Economic Forum organised by Bloomberg.
A central concern has been the cost and availability of accommodation in the Gulf Arab state, which has fewer than30,000 hotel rooms, according to the most recent estimates by Qatar Tourism. Eighty percent of those rooms are currently allocated to FIFA's guests, organisers said.
"In terms of availability, we've tried to ensure that we provide different offerings on different categories. So from the affordable, which range from $80 to $100 a night all the way tothe pricier ones in terms of five-star hotels," Al Thawadi said.
Qatar has boosted non-hotel accommodation, making 65,000 rooms in villas and apartments available for fans to book and around 4,000 rooms in two cruise ships moored in Doha port.
The business community in Qatar, which has come under criticism for its treatment of migrant workers, has committed torepay $28 million workers who paid recruitment fees to secure employment in the Gulf Arab state.
Charging recruitment fees is illegal in Qatar and elsewhere,though the practice is widespread in many of the countries where Qatar's workers come from.