Fifa Women's World Cup attendance skewed by ticket sales reporting

Two for one: Colombia fans celebrate in the second half against France.
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Two for one: Colombia fans celebrate in the second half against France.

The true total number of ticket sales and attendances at the 2015 Fifa Women's World Cup appears to have been heavily inflated.

Well over a million tickets are claimed to have been sold for the tournament in Canada, but misleading reporting of double-header fixtures has doubled the tally for the entire first half of the World Cup.

For the first 24 games, reported ticket sales and attendance figures are twice the actual number, with Fifa and the Local Organising Committee (LOC) deeming one ticket purchased for a seat at a double-header as two separate tickets in their reports. 

According to organisers, the attendance figure for the 2015 tournament stands at 626,822 across 24 games. However, that number accounts for the same attendance repeated for two games held one after another at the same venue, potentially doubling the real amount. 

All of the first two group games of every competing nation have been double-headers at the same venue with no single match options available to fans. The forced purchase for two games and one seat has been used to reflect two separate ticket purchases.

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The LOC has set a target of 1.5 million ticket sales for the tournament. Half the games are double-headers. 

Fifa confirmed the practice is in place for the attendance figures of each game, which has led to an inflated final figure for the tournament. 

"A ticket grants access for both games of a double-header and given that it can be difficult technically to check how many persons were in the stadium per game, the total number of tickets issued is counted for each game," a Fifa spokesperson said. 

According to official records, Australia's Group D match against Nigeria had a near capacity attendance of 32,716 in Winnipeg, despite the stadium only being half-full up until the final whistle. The game was the first of two at the one venue that day with USA's match against Sweden played 90 minutes later which according to records had the same attendance figure. 

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It is understood the attendance figures are only calculated at the 75 minute mark of the second game at each venue with the overall figure then applied to both games. There has been no initial attendance figure reported at the end of the first game of a double header. Instead of being listed as an attendance figure for the day or two-game event, Fifa applies the figure for each game individually. 

"This is the way total attendances are calculated for the final reports of all Fifa tournaments that involve double headers, in order to have consistency," a Fifa spokesperson said. 

The record for ticket sales a Women's World Cup was set in USA 1999 where all but two games were double-headers. The total attendance was registered as 1,194,215. It is possible that the 2011 Women's World Cup in Germany had the most number of seats occupied by fans with 845,751 set as the overall attendance at a tournament that did not involve double-headers.

 - Sydney Morning Herald

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