The World Cup was seen live from the stands by almost 3,43 million people. Or so says FIFA, who haven’t disclosed actual number of viewers, sharing only number of distributed tickets.
If the official data released by FIFA is correct, this year’s World Cup was the second largest after USA 1994 and the largest one since the tournament was expanded to 32 teams (which influenced stadium sizes). Altogether the 64 games were watched live by 3,429,843 people. That’s some 157,000 less than in the US, but still stunning and larger than the 2006 tournament in Germany.
Average game turnout stands at 53,591 people, which means this was only the second time in this century when crowds of over 50,000 were seen regularly. This in turn means that every stadium was nearly sold out, averaging at 98.5%.
According to official data there were only 51,916 tickets unused and the game with most unsold was Russia-Korea at Arena Pantanal. The game had 3,509 tickets/invitations left.
Meanwhile the tournament’s record was set already on the fourth day of the World Cup. According to official data 74,738 people watched Argentina beat Bosnia, which means literally 100% seats taken. That number was only repeated once, during the final game.
It all sounds great, except that even during the final it’s almost impossible that every single ticket-holder showed up. Which leads us to the reason why we used ‘theoretically’ in the title. FIFA didn’t release actual viewer numbers, but number of tickets distributed. And even that wasn’t all in line with official capacities despite them being updated during the event, for example two last games at Arena de Sao Paulo were supposedly seen by well over 63,000 people, while the stadium could hold 62,601…