FIFA said it is giving away 20,000 free tickets for Women’s World Cup games in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Dunedin amid concerns about the slow pace of sales in New Zealand.
Co-hosts Australia have snapped up the lion’s share of the 1 million tickets sold so far, with their Matildas team seen as contenders to win the tournament.
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FIFA chief women’s football officer Sarai Bareman said it was more difficult to attract fans to football stadiums in New Zealand due to the sport’s lower profile in the country, while the Football Ferns have yet to win a match in five previous appearances at the World Cup.
The official partner of this year’s showpiece event, Xero, is offering 5,000 complimentary tickets to games in New Zealand’s four host cities.
Former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is also trying to drum up interest.
“My feed is going to be dominated by a lot of football chat these next few weeks — not because I’m an expert, but because I’m so excited that New Zealand is hosting such a massive event…” she wrote in an Instagram post.
“There are still tickets to some games across New Zealand [Auckland, Dunedin, Wellington and Hamilton] so whether you’re an amateur enthusiast or an expert, this is your reminder to jump online and join in!”
New Zealand kick off their campaign against past champions Norway in Auckland on July 20.