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World Cup tickets still available for more than 15 matches a day before the opener

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FILE - In this June 2, 2014, file photo, Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff and FIFA President Joseph Blatter stand during the playing of the Brazilian national anthem during a ceremony where Blatter presented the 2014 World Cup trophy to Rousseff, at Planalto presidential palace, in Brasilia, Brazil. For Rousseff, who has seen her approval rating steadily fall as she gears up for a re-election run, hosting the World Cup has become a potential political liability reminding voters of her failure to deliver on promises and live up to a reputation for being a hard-driving manager. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres,File)

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FILE - In this June 2, 2014, file photo, Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff and FIFA President Joseph Blatter stand during the playing of the Brazilian national anthem during a ceremony where Blatter presented the 2014 World Cup trophy to Rousseff, at Planalto presidential palace, in Brasilia, Brazil. For Rousseff, who has seen her approval rating steadily fall as she gears up for a re-election run, hosting the World Cup has become a potential political liability reminding voters of her failure to deliver on promises and live up to a reputation for being a hard-driving manager. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres,File)

SAO PAULO - Tickets remain available for more than 15 World Cup matches just a day before the tournament opener, including some involving Germany, Italy and France.

FIFA said it already sold more than 2.9 million tickets, but some were still on sale Wednesday.

There were plenty of tickets for matches between less prominent nations, including Bosnia-Iran and Greece-Ivory Coast, but it was also still possible to attend games with some of the more traditional teams. Fans could still get tickets on FIFA's website for matches such as Germany-Ghana, Switzerland-France and Italy-Uruguay.

Only tickets for the highest-priced categories remained available for the better matches.

FIFA said a total of about 3.1 million tickets will be sold for the first World Cup in Brazil since 1950.

Thursday's opener between Brazil and Croatia at the troubled Itaquerao stadium in Sao Paulo sold out fast. Of the 61,600 tickets available, only about 25,600 were sold to the general public. Nearly 10,000 additional tickets went to fans through promotional activities, but sponsors and local organizers got most of them.

Tickets for the July 13 final at the Maracana Stadium also were hard to get. A crowd of nearly 80,000 is expected at the decisive match.

The game with the most tickets available by Wednesday morning was Bosnia-Iran in the northeastern city of Salvador on June 25, followed by Greece-Ivory Coast a day earlier in nearby Fortaleza. The Nigeria-Bosnia game on June 21 in the western city of Cuiaba also remained available.

Other matches with tickets on sale included Honduras-Switzerland in the jungle city of Manaus on June 24, Russia-South Korea in Cuiaba on Tuesday, and Uruguay-Costa Rica in Fortaleza on Saturday.

Tickets would remain on sale until the day of the matches.

FIFA said it received an "unprecedented number" of nearly 11 million ticket requests for the tournament in Brazil. It sold a total of about 2.2 million tickets directly via FIFA.com to the general public, and the rest went mostly to hospitality programs. About 60 per cent of the tickets went to Brazilians, and Americans were the second-biggest buyers with almost 197,000.

FIFA said last week that nearly 1,400 people were told to change their tickets because they were handed out before work in some of the stadiums was completed. It said seating configurations changed after technical teams established exactly where the media tribunes and broadcast equipment had to be placed in each of the 12 venues.

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Follow Tales Azzoni at http://twitter.com/tazzoni

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