Football World Cup: Ticket giveaway offer bolsters slow sales for NZ-based women's showpiece

Thousands of New Zealanders can enjoy the Women's Football World Cup free of charge, due to a sudden ticket giveaway announced by FIFA and tournament sponsor Xero, but the international body is refusing to blame slow ticket sales for the unprecedented giveaway. 

Total football fever has struck Porirua, with young fans enjoying the rare chance to take a closer look at the prize 32 teams will soon contest in stadiums across Australia and New Zealand.

This golden photo op wasn't the only gift FIFA has offered Kiwi football fans.

"We are delighted to announce we will be giving away 5000 complimentary tickets to each of the opening matches in each of the host cities, except Auckland, where it will be the match on July 26," said Xero brand & operations general manager Valerie Walshe. 

That's 20,000 free tickets across four World Cup matches. Australia has sold close to a million tickets, but it's been a bit slower here, with only 320,000 of the 900,000 available tickets snapped up.

FIFA insists that's not the reason for the giveaway.

"This is all about enhancing the celebration of the women's game and making it even bigger than it's already going to be," said World Cup chief executive Dave Beeche.  

FIFA's ticket announcement comes the day after Sports Minister Grant Robertson urged Kiwis to get behind the tournament and not leave it until the last minute to buy a ticket.

US captain Alex Morgan poses with a Kiwi fan
US captain Alex Morgan poses with a Kiwi fan. Photo credit: Photosport

"We've got some games close to being soldout, but we've got other games where we'd like to see more New Zealanders there," he said.

So far, the only two soldout matches feature defending champions USA, but FIFA remains confident more Kiwis will get involved.

"We're comfortable with progress with where we are at," said Beeche.

He's comfortable, but clearly hoping to fill a few more seats at the biggest womens sporting event New Zealand's ever seen.

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