Mystery over empty seats at World Cup game between Uruguay and Egypt

A view of the empty seats from high up in one of the Ekaterinburg Arena's temporary stands.

Story highlights

  • Egypt 0-1 Uruguay
  • Giménez scores 90th-minute winner
  • Salah doesn't feature for Egypt

(CNN)The World Cup is barely two days old and football's governing body FIFA is already having to field questions about poor stadium attendances at the tournament.

As Egypt and Uruguay kicked off Friday's action, the eye was immediately drawn to the hundreds of empty, orange seats spread around the Ekaterinburg Arena.
FIFA say that the match had been close to a sellout but had no explanation as to why fans who bought those tickets hadn't turned up.
    "We can confirm that 32,278 tickets have been allocated for the match between Egypt and Uruguay in Ekaterinburg," a FIFA spokesperson told CNN.
    "The FIFA World Cup stadium capacity is 33,061. The fact that the current attendance doesn't reflect the amount of allocated tickets can be due to different factors, which FIFA is currently investigating."
    In a statement released last week, FIFA said: "With just seven days to go until the opening match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, FIFA can confirm that 2,403,116 tickets have been allocated to football fans all around the world since sales started in September 2017."
    The Ekaterinburg Arena is one of the more striking stadiums at Russia 2018 -- two temporary stands had to be erected at either end to meet the World Cup's minimum capacity requirement.
    The additional seats, constructed well outside the original stadium structure, will be taken down once the tournament ends.
    Those fans that did make the effort to attend the World Cup's second match weren't treated to a classic, though at least Uruguay's supporters left with a smile on their faces after the South American team secured a win thanks to José María Giménez's 90th-minute header.
    It was Uruguay's first win in their opening World Cup match since 1970.
    After Giménez scored, the cameras panned to the helpless Mo Salah, who was on the substitutes' bench for Egypt, unable to make an impact as he continues his rehabilitation from a shoulder injury he picked up in the Champions League final last month.
    After the match, Egypt coach Hector Cuper told reporters that Salah would have an "important role" in the team in the remaining two group matches.
    "We wanted to avoid risks in this match, but I think he will be fine for the next game," he said.
    Mohamed Salah looks on dejectedly from the bench after Uruguay's late winner.

    Sluggish Suarez

    It was a cagey opening to the match, with both sides knowing how important a positive result would be after the marker was set down by Group A rivals Russia, who beat Saudi Arabia Thursday 5-0.
    Barcelona star Suarez looked sluggish and typified a disjointed Uruguay display.
    He lost out on individual battles and then missed, by his high standards, a simple chance in the first half, screwing a six-yard effort into the side netting, and messed up when closing in on goal after the break.
    Luis Suarez looked out of sorts in the first half.
    The former Liverpool striker did, however, latch onto a through ball from strike partner Edinson Cavani at the start of the second half, shrugged off a challenge and forced a fine save from the inexperienced Mohamed El Shenawy.
    It was a big decision by Egypt head coach Hector Cuper to give the 29-year-old goalkeeper his fourth cap, starting him ahead of the 45-year-old Essam El-Hadary.
    While more than half of his teammates hadn't been born yet, El-Hadary was just starting his career the last time Egypt qualified for a World Cup in 1990.