LONDON, England (CNN) -- Tickets for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa have gone on sale.
Italy will be looking to defend their World Cup trophy in 2010 in South Africa.
Just over three million tickets are available for next year's 64-match tournament, the first to be held in Africa, although only half of those will be sold to the public.
Requests for tickets can be made on the FIFA.com Web site from February 20 until March 31. Applications will be followed by a random draw for tickets on April 15.
Fans around the world can apply for the first 740,000 tickets now. Applications can be made for individual tickets or team-specific ones.
There will be four further sales periods, with the second running from May 4 to November 16. Unlike the first-sales phase, applications will be dealt with on a first come first served basis.
Later in the year, 570,000 will be made available to supporters of qualified countries and a further 344,000 will also be made available to those buying tickets through an official tour operator.
"Our ticketing policy has been drawn up to reflect our determination to ensure that FIFA's flagship competition is accessible to all football fans," said Jerome Valcke, FIFA secretary general.
Owing to South Africa's location, demand for tickets overall is expected to be down on the 20 million requests made for 750,000 tickets at the first stage of the last World Cup in Germany.
Prices range from $80 for the cheapest ticket in the group stages up to $900 for the most expensive seat in the house to watch the final in Johannesburg on July 11 next year.
A special $20 ticket, making up 15-20 percent of the total, can only be bought by South African residents to encourage local attendance.
Only South Africa as hosts have so far qualified for the tournament, which kicks off on June 11, also in Johannesburg.
The organizers, already beset with problems during construction of stadiums that led to speculation the tournament would have to take place elsewhere, will hoping to avoid a repeat of the empty-seat fiasco of the last two World Cups.
Of the 700,000 tickets available for sale overseas for games in Japan, more than 40 percent were reserved for national associations and around 30 percent for sponsors. Only between 50 and 60 percent of these set-aside allocations sold out leading to anger among traveling fans without tickets.
And the same thing happened in Germany, when stadium announcers boasts of games being a sell-out were met with ironic cheers from the stands.
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