A sponsor for the FIFA Women’s World Cup is offering 20,000 free tickets amid concerns over the lack of sales in one of the tournament’s host nations.
Xero, a New Zealand-based accounting firm, announced Thursday that 5,000 tickets would be offered for each match set to be played in the four venues in New Zealand as it co-hosts the World Cup later this month with Australia.
According to the Associated Press, ticket sales in Australia are significantly higher. Of the 1.25 million already sold for the tournament, only 320,000 have been sold for matches in New Zealand.
"In Australia, [the national team is] the darlings of the country. Sam Kerr is an absolute superstar and the whole country is in love with football because of the Matildas," FIFA's chief women's football officer Sarai Bareman said last month via Reuters.
"There’s that selling power that the Matildas have that we don’t quite have here yet in New Zealand with the Football Ferns."
Australia is largely considered a serious title contender this year, while New Zealand’s Football Ferns have never won a World Cup group match.
"Naturally, there are some games that are experiencing higher demand with the Kiwis and some of the top-ranked teams," Women’s World Cup chief executive Dave Beeche recently told the New Zealand Herald, "but we’re happy with how the progress is overall."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.