A sponsor is giving away 20,000 tickets to Women’s World Cup matches in New Zealand as ticket sales remain sluggish in a country in which rugby dominates as the national sport.
According to FIFA, 1.25 million tickets have been sold for matches across cohosts Australia and New Zealand. Of those 320,000 have been sold to matches in New Zealand, but only six of those matches are close to a sell out.
On Thursday, the accounting firm Xero, a tournament partner, said it would offer 5,000 free tickets to a match at each of New Zealand’s four venues.
Women’s World Cup chief executive Dave Beeche told the New Zealand Herald that FIFA is “comfortable” with the current rate of ticket sales in New Zealand. He said sales had picked up in recent weeks as coverage of the tournament had increased.
“Naturally, there are some games that are experiencing higher demand with the Kiwis and some of the top-ranked teams,” Beeche said, “but we’re happy with how the progress is overall.”
Last month FIFA’s head of women’s football Sarai Bareman indicated she had some concerns about the pace of ticket sales in New Zealand, despite overall sales being ahead of the 2019 World Cup in France.
Bareman said sales in Australia have been bolstered by support for the Australian women’s team which is a genuine title contender, while New Zealand’s Football Ferns have never won a World Cup group match.
A larger problem is that soccer is not generally a widely supported sport in New Zealand and attracting fans to stadiums in the coldest months of the year was always going to be a hard sell.
New Zealand’s national rugby team, the All Blacks, will play South Africa in Auckland on Saturday in a match which could have been sold out several times over.