England’s last-gasp win over Tunisia has sparked a surge of interest in World Cup tickets from within the UK, the Daily Telegraph can reveal.
With tournament organisers issuing an urgent plea for more Three Lions fans to roar on their team in Russia, data shows Google searches for ‘World Cup tickets’, ‘England World Cup tickets’ and ‘How to buy World Cup tickets’ have spiked since Harry Kane netted a stoppage-time header on Monday night.
The late drama sparked jubilation back home, where more than 21 million people tuned for what became the biggest television event of the year, comfortably beating the Royal Wedding.
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Those figures were tempered by the fact that only around 2,000 England fans travelled to Volgograd to attend the game, the team’s lowest following at a World Cup in living memory.
That was partly down to pre-tournament fears about hooliganism, discrimination and anti-British sentiment in Russia following the Salisbury poisoning, fears that have so far proven unfounded amid a Kremlin crackdown on anything that would disrupt the biggest event held in the country.
Supporter apathy around the England team following a succession of flops at major championships has also been replaced by a sense of cautious optimism about a Kane-inspired young squad.
The availability of tickets for their second and third Group G games against Panama on Sunday and Belgium on Thursday, respectively, has been fluctuating since the World Cup began thanks to a mechanism by which they can be returned via an official resale platform.
On Wednesday, Fifa urged England supporters to keep an eye on its website for any tickets that might become available.
That was after the tournament’s Local Organising Committee (LOC) went even further, pleading with stay-away UK nationals to come to the World Cup.
An official spokesman said: “It’s not too late for England fans to come to Russia. We would welcome them.
“Please tell them not to be afraid. Russian people are friendly. I don’t know about Russian politicians but Russian people are very kind.
“I think the England team needs your support. It is very important. Can you imagine you are afraid to come to Russia and not be there to cheer them?”
Official figures show just 1,872 tickets have been sold via the Football Association for England’s next game against Panama in Nizhny Novgorod and only 2,659 for the Belgium match.
Additional tickets, which cost between £80 and £160, have been sold through the Fifa website.
A spokesman for the governing body warned fans planning to attend matches not to book flights to Russia unless they have a ticket and what is called a FAN ID, with a visa otherwise required to enter the country.
Any ticket holder without a FAN ID, which is free and effectively replaces a visa, will not be granted access to a World Cup stadium.
The Fifa spokesman insisted FAN IDs were possible to obtain at very short notice using a confirmation number issued when tickets are purchased.
It is not impossible to buy tickets on the secondary market or from a tout and successfully obtain a FAN ID afterwards but that would be in breach of Fifa’s ticketing terms and conditions.
The spokesman said: “Whoever decides to go to a different platform will be facing, first of all, a situation in which he will be very likely to pay far more money than the face value.
“Secondly, there is no security that he will have the ticket confirmation number.
“And, third, if we identify tickets that have been bought on the parallel markets, we are in a position to cancel those tickets.”
Earlier this month, Fifa filed a criminal complaint against Viagogo over unauthorised World Cup ticket sales.
The spokesman said the governing body had been contacted by people claiming to have paid up to $1,000 for tickets with a face value of $100 on Viagogo, only for them never to arrive.