One of the World Cup’s most exciting games had the most empty seats in the first round of the tournament in Brazil.
More than 3,500 seats were empty when the Netherlands routed defending champion Spain 5-1 in the northeastern city of Salvador on Friday, according to FIFA’s match reports and its numbers on stadium capacities.
Although it wasn’t the worst crowd — 48,173 attended the match at the Arena Fonte Nova — it was the game with the most unused seats.
Crowds have been good so far, but there were many matches with empty seats across the 12 host cities. Nearly all matches were sold out ahead of the tournament, and FIFA said “the empty seats corresponded to either no-shows or people who did not collect their tickets.”
Among the matches with visible empty seats was the high-profile encounter between England and Italy in the jungle city of Manaus, when 39,800 were in hand.
More than 503,000 people have attended the initial 10 matches of the first World Cup in Brazil since 1950. Another match with a high number of unused seats was Ivory Coast-Japan in Recife, when 2,316 chairs were empty, according to the most recent numbers on FIFA.com.
The Uruguay-Costa Rica match in Fortaleza had 1,669 empty seats, while the Colombia-Greece game in Belo Horizonte had 1,085 unused chairs.
The other matches played by Sunday were mostly full, according to the numbers available from FIFA.
The biggest crowd was at the Argentina-Bosnia match, when 74,738 fans were at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. FIFA said 39,216 people saw the Mexico-Cameroon match in Natal, the smallest attendance by Sunday.
More than 62,100 people attended the World Cup opener between Brazil and Croatia at the Itaquerao stadium here. Football’s governing body said it received “an unprecedented number” of more than 11 million requests for the nearly 3.1 tickets available for the tournament in Brazil.
More than 2.98 million tickets were sold and only about 14,000 remained on sale on the eve of the competition last week. FIFA said that just over 7,100 tickets were still available on Monday.
There were online tickets available for only six matches on Monday afternoon, mostly the ones involving less prominent teams. FIFA said there were only two matches with more than 400 tickets left unsold. The Bosnia-Iran match on June 25 in Salvador was the one with the most tickets available on FIFA’s website.