KEIR RADNEDGE in SAO PAULO: Ticket sales for the Confederations Cup in Brazil next summer are already well over 10 times the level of sales ahead of the similar event four years ago in South Africa.

Jerome Valcke, secretary-general of football football federation FIFA, confirmed after a meeting of the organising committee today that 132,000 tickets had already been sold ahead of the draw which takes place in Sao Paulo tomorrow/Saturday.

Valcke said: “Considering this was the pre-sale phase it’s more than very good news, it’s extemely good news. Selling 132,000 tickets compared with 9,000 by this stage ahead of the 2009 Confederations Cup in South Africa shows how passionate Brazilians are about football.

“It’s not just an image, this really is the Mecca of football and next week, when the next sales phase is launched, I’m sure Rio and the other stadia will be sold out in a very short time.

“It shows the passion of Brazilian for football, not only for their own team but for all the teams coming here next June.”

The other competing nations are Spain (world and European champions), Italy(Euro runners-up), Japan(Asian champions), Mexico (CONCACAF champs), Tahiti (Oceania champs), Uruguay (Copa America holders) and the winners of the African Nations Cup being staged in South Africa next January and February.

Brazil and Spain have been pre-allocated top-seed roles in Groups A and B. The need to keep a balance with European and South Americans split means that Italy will go into Group A (with Brazil) and Uruguay will go into Group B (with Spain).

Hence, only half the draw is ‘for real’ in terms of opposition identity.

Concern over the possible effects of high temperatures at some early kickoff matches have prompted an amendment to tournament regulations to permit referees to halt matches for water breaks.

This was first a notable feature of the 2008 Olympic Games final played in searing early-day temperatures in Beijing and in which a suitably-refreshed Argentina beat Nigeria 1-0.

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