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Only 25,000 tickets go directly to fans at World Cup opener in Brazil

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This aerial view shot through an airplane window shows the Maracana stadium behind the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Tuesday, May 13, 2014. As opening day for the World Cup approaches, people continue to stage protests, some about the billions of dollars spent on the World Cup at a time of social hardship, but soccer is still a unifying force. The international soccer tournament will be the first in the South American nation since 1950.

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This aerial view shot through an airplane window shows the Maracana stadium behind the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Tuesday, May 13, 2014. As opening day for the World Cup approaches, people continue to stage protests, some about the billions of dollars spent on the World Cup at a time of social hardship, but soccer is still a unifying force. The international soccer tournament will be the first in the South American nation since 1950.

SAO PAULO - FIFA says less than half of the tickets available for the World Cup opener next week went directly to the general public, with most being reserved to commercial partners, broadcasters, local organizers and hospitality programs.

FIFA said Sunday that of the 61,600 tickets available for the Brazil-Croatia match on Thursday, only 25,630 were sold to the general public. About 10,000 additional tickets are going to fans through promotional activities.

Football's governing body said more than 1,500 tickets were reserved for VIPs, and about the same number is going to journalists.

More than 13,750 tickets went to hospitality programs, and 12,600 to commercial affiliates and broadcasters. Local organizers and the football community, including association members, received 6,600 tickets.

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