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Football fans have so far snapped up 2.45 million tickets to November’s World Cup in Doha, according to FIFA, which plans to make 3 million spots available in total. 

Close to 521,000 tickets were sold in the most recent phase and group-stage games featuring Brazil proved popular. Residents from the host nation Qatar, and neighbors Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were among the top buyers, FIFA said. 

The World Cup has been billed as an event that will benefit countries across the region, and Qatar Airways has partnered with Gulf carriers to set up match-day shuttle flights between Doha and major Middle Eastern cities.

FIFA plans to start the next phase of ticket sales in September. About 1.2 million fans, roughly half the population of Qatar, are expected to descend upon the tiny Gulf state during the event. 

Providing sufficient rooms for visiting fans, teams and tournament staff remains a key challenge for Qatar and organizers have tried everything from cruise ships and desert camps to help ease the accommodation squeeze.

The event is set to start on November 20, a day earlier than planned, following a last-minute change this month.

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