AFP - FIFA said on Friday that ticket demand for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa was booming but voiced caution about the impact of a prolonged economic crisis.
"There are at least 28 matches of the 64 that are sold out. The demand is huge," said FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke after a meeting of the executive committee.
Some 800,000 ticket requests had been made since tickets were made available for sale online on February 20, he added. The strongest demand came from the United States and England.
Most of the stadiums in South Africa will be ready for a hand-over by June this year and the Confederations Cup.
But Cape Town's stadium will only be ready in February 2010, while Confederations Cup ticket sales were much slower, the executive committee was told.
Valcke said major World Cup sponsors showed no sign of reconsidering despite fears about the impact of corporate cost-cutting on sports sponsorship.
FIFA has so far weathered the financial turmoil due to the sale of broadcasting rights for the 2010 World Cup and marketing rights and the way its accountants played the money markets, which altogether accounted for 85 percent of its revenues last year.
The governing body reported an increase in its annual financial result in 2008 to 184 million dollars - compared to 49 million dollars the previous year.
The governing body's equity also grew for the fifth consecutive year and already exceeds its target for the end of 2010.
FIFA's stock of cash reached 902 million dollars in 2008, against 643 million dollars in 2007, according to its financial report.
But that cash stock was "particularly vital in times of crisis, and all the more so in the current financial crisis," according to the report.
Finance chief Markus Kattner voiced caution since 95 percent of FIFA's revenues over its four-year financial period - 2007 to 2010 - depend on a successful World Cup.
"The financial and economic crisis is not yet over," he commented.
Many countries are not forecasting an economic recovery until late this year or next year and unemployment is rising.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter admitted that the game was feeling the pinch even if the governing body was in a "rather comfortable situation".
"Football will also be affected and has been affected, particularly when it comes to sponsorship," Blatter said.