Guide to World Cup Tickets – Brazil 2014
Securing World Cup Tickets is not easy. Cracked.com said about the 2010 World Cup that you had a better chance of having sex with Megan Fox than getting tickets. I am here to say it can be done!
I have been to 4 world cups (1994, 1998, 2006, 2010) and have seen the US play in all of them. One of my travel goals is to make it to all of the subsequent world cups until I die. From the way I calculate it, I have another 13 in me before the final whistle blows.
Start of World Cup Ticket Sales
The sale of stage 1 tickets began on August 20, 2013 and runs until October 10th. Don’t panic; the first ticket stage is based on a lottery system so you have the same chance of obtaining tickets even if you apply on October 10th. Hospitality rights tickets are available for purchase right now, without waiting for a lottery (more on the ticket types and stages shortly).
For a new post on the latest First Come First Serve round on March 12th click here.
Stadiums and Hosting Cities
To some people, the decision of which city or cities to visit is just as important as the teams that will be playing. In total there are 12 stadiums that will be hosting the World Cup. Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Cuiaba, Curitiba, Fortaleza, Manaus, Natal, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, and Sao Paulo.
Click here for A Guide to Cheap Transportation between World Cup 2014 Cities.
When Will the Tournament Schedule Be Determined?
The dates, times and stadiums for all games have already been determined, just not which teams will be playing. The final draw to allocate teams to groups will be on December 6th, 1pm (UTC /3). The exact draw method has not yet been determined. That means for the first ticket phase, you will not know where your team is playing or, if you buy location based tickets, who is playing. Only Brazil’s group schedule is known. They will play the opening game in Sao Paulo on the 12th of July, their second game in Fortaleza on the 17th of July and their final group game in Brasilia on the 23rd of July.
FIFA has identified 13 different stakeholders and allocated tickets to each of them. Overall, there are about 3.3 million tickets available.
Of those 3.3 million, FIFA says that approximately 2.9 Million are purchasable (VIP, Complimentary and Media are excluded). I find the term “Purchasable” to be a bit ambiguous and not entirely useful. As such I have broken the 2.9 Million tickets down into three categories.
A) Tickets that you, as a fan, can get through direct purchase
B) Tickets you can not purchase, but you still might be able to get
C) Tickets you most likely won’t get
A) World Cup Tickets for Direct Purchase
There are approximately 1.5 Million tickets available for direct purchase plus 400 thousand extra tickets if you are Brazilian. Tickets can be purchased in five ways under direct purchase, from:
- FIFA (see International and Brazilian General Public and Brazilian Public in graph 1)
- Participating Membership Associations (see international PMA Supporters allocation in graph 1)
- Hospitality Rights Ticket sellers (see Hospitality Rights Holders in graph 1)
- The Grey Market (unofficial)
- The Black Market (unofficial)
Sales phases and stages
FIFA.com sells tickets through a 3 Phase sales process. Phase 1 and 2 are further broken down into Random Selection stages and First Come First Serve stages (click here for my post on sales stage 2). Phase 3 is not further divided and includes only a Last minute sales phase. That means in reality there are 5 distinct sales stages (numbered 1 through 5 in Graph 2). Please be careful to understand the difference between a phase and a stage as I will reference both in this post.
Stage 1 and 3 – Random Selection Draw: It does not matter when you apply for tickets as long as it is during the stage itself. Stage 1 runs from the 20th of August to the 10th of October and during this time frame, it doesn’t matter if you apply on the first or last day, you will have the same odds of winning in either case. After the end of these stages, FIFA will analyze the demand compared to supply. If there are more applications than tickets available, FIFA will allocate tickets using a computer based random drawing.
Stage 2 and 4 – First Come First Serve: Tickets will be awarded in real time. It is imperative that you are online right at the start of the sales stage. If you log on a couple of hours later, your chances will have greatly diminished.
Stage 5: Last Minute Sales Phase: This phase functions like the First Come First Serve stage, however tickets can not only be bought online, they can also be bought at ticket offices through out Brazil.
Approximately 1.1 million tickets will be sold through FIFA.com. Of that number, 400 thousand are category four tickets which are reserved for the Brazilian public only.
Individual Ticket Prices
Below, you can find the ticket prices in both US Dollars and Brazilian Reais. The prices in Reais are only available for Brazilians. The prices in Dollars are valid for the rest of the world.
FIFA has fixed ticket prices for Brazilians at an exchange rate of 2 Reais to 1 Dollar. As of this post, the exchange rate is 1 Dollar for every 2.32 Reais. That means, the Brazilians are paying about 16% less than the general public. If the Real continues to depreciate, the difference can become even greater. If you are Brazilian, you can also buy category four tickets that the general public does not have access to.
Additionally, Brazilian Students have the opportunity to apply for Category 4 tickets at half price. Brazilian residents over the age of 60 may apply for half price tickets regardless of the category. That means, for group games, there are tickets out there that cost only 12.50 USD, so be mindful of that if you buy tickets on the black market.
As you would expect, the best tickets are Category 1 and the worst are category 4. To see an example of seat locations per category, please see graph 5.
Types of Ticket “Products”
There are three different ticket products available on FIFA.com
1) Tickets for individual matches can be applied for all of the 64 games, including the final itself. In the first round, it is not known which teams will be playing in the matches, only the stadium and date. The demand for these tickets are high as they allow for the highest level of flexibility for people in planning their trip.
2) Team Specific Tickets allow you to follow a specific team through a set number of games. You must apply at a minimum for the 3 group games. From there you can add on the next game(s). FIFA calls these tickets TST tickets. You can buy TST 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7, where a TST 3 cooresponds to the three group games, the TST 4 to the three group games plus the second round game and so on all the way up to TST 7 that includes all games until the finals. In this product, if you want to buy a ticket to the finals, then you have to buy all the preceding games before it.
If your team loses, your ticket price will not be refunded, instead you will receive a ticket to follow the team that beat your team or in the case of the group phase, the winner of your team’s group. Although you have the advantage of following your team of choice through a set number of games, you have the disadvantage of paying 10% more than if you bought all the tickets separately.
3) Venue specific Tickets allow you to see all games played in a stadium excluding the first game, quarter finals, semi finals and final, however including the 3rd place game. In this case, Brasilia gives you the most games (6), since it includes the 3rd place game, and Sao Paulo the least (4, does not include opening match).
As mentioned before, only the location of the games for Brazil have been determined (Sao Paulo, Fortaleza and Brasilia). Most likely the venue tickets for these cities, plus Rio, will have a higher number of applicants due to the popularity of Brazil’s national team and the cities themselves. Unlike the Team specific tickets, venue specific tickets do not cost more than buying individual tickets separately.
2) Participating Member Associations
The next group of purchasable tickets, approximately 388,000, can be bought through the International Participating Member Associations (PMA), which are the associations that support the national soccer team of their respective country. The ticketing distribution is administered by FIFA’s Ticketing Office through standardized websites that are branded to each respective PMA.
In the US, the PMA is the United States Soccer Federation. In Germany it’s the Deutscher Fussball-Bund. Brazil has the Confederação Brasileira de Futebol. If you don’t know who your respective association is, you can visit http://www.fifa.com/aboutfifa/organisation/associations.html to find out.
Tickets will become available for PMA Supporters two days after the December 6th draw. That means there are no tickets available for the PMA supporters in the first ticket phase. In order to qualify for PMA tickets you must meet all of the three following criteria:
- Have the nationality of the Member Association in question
- Be a resident of the country of the Member Association
- Be a qualified supporter of the Member Association
Contact your local PMA to find out how to qualify as a supporter and how to apply for the tickets.
Important: PMA Supporter tickets are only available in the TST format. All tickets are conditional on your teams participation in the game. That means, if you apply as a PMA supporter, your only chance of going to the second round, quarters, semis or finals, is if your team advances to that particular stage. If you choose a TST 7 ticket and your team loses in the group stage, you will be refunded the cost of the second round, quarterfinals, semis and finals tickets minus a 10 USD fee for each guest to a maximum of 40 USD.
3) Hospitality Rights Tickets
Approximately 445 thousand tickets can be purchased through hospitality rights holders. Primarily, these tickets are bought by companies so that they can network with clients in VIP settings before and after the game, however they are available to the general public too and are often bundled together with a hotel, airfare or vacation package. Each country has only one FIFA sanctioned company that you can purchase tickets from.
These tickets can be purchased immediately, without taking a chance in the lottery system. As mentioned before, they can provide tickets with and without travel options. Additionally, buying a ticket from a hospitality rights holder includes some perks that you will not get with a standard ticket. The cheapest hospitality rights tickets are called Match Premier. Besides category 1 seating you get parking, a welcome area with multilingual hostesses, a tented hospitality area with snacks and drinks before and after the game. The price is 700 USD for a group stage game, substantially more than a category 1 ticket alone (175 USD).
The main advantage of these tickets is that you can start planning now, way before others know if they have secured tickets. Hey, you might even be able to save on flights and hotels, because you are an early bird. For the US, Sportsmark (also known as Cartan) is the responsible hospitality provider. For other countries, you can find the agent here: http://hospitality.fifa.com/content/Agents.aspx
Cartan provided me with a package that included 2 games (Match Premier category – one undetermined Germany game and the Brazil game in Fortaleza) with 7 nights at the Mercure Fortaleza hotel for 7,395 USD excluding international and domestic airfare.
4) Package Tickets from a Non-Authorized Dealer (Grey Market)
You can find numerous suppliers online that offer tickets together with a vacation package that are not sanctioned by FIFA. I consider them grey market because the price of the ticket itself will not be higher than the actual cost given by FIFA. The catch is that you have to buy the tickets together with a vacation package, which gives the company plenty of wiggle room in their profit margin. In the best case they are selling you tickets that they do not yet have but are planning to purchase in the FIFA sales phases. They will then change the names listed on the hopefully successful ticket application to yours.
In the worst case, they are not there to sell anything except shame. Do some research on the company offering the package deals first. Under point 3) Hospitality Tickets Rights holders, you can find a link to FIFA’s site that contains a list of all sanctioned providers. If you have the time to plan the trip yourself, I don’t consider this a great option because you will most likely end up paying more for your trip and also run the risk of not getting tickets anyways, since they have to apply like everybody else.
5) Scalping (Black Market)
FIFA strictly forbids any secondary sales where the price is higher than the one listed on the ticket. If you purchase online from a website that has prices higher than the ones listed in Graph 3, you may have trouble receiving your tickets at the end of the day. Plus who wants to pay more than you have to? Use as a last resort.
B) Tickets you can’t purchase, but you can still get
Another 605 thousand tickets are purchasable by commercial affiliates. I say purchasable because the affiliate has the right to purchase the tickets but may decline. Any tickets not bought by the affiliates will be siphoned back to the general public through later sale’s stages.
FIFA says around 80% of those tickets will be distributed to the general public through promotions. Here is a list of known commercial affiliates as listed by FIFA: Adidas, Coca Cola, Emirates, Hyndai and Kia, Sony, Visa, Budweiser, Castrol, Continnental, McDonalds, Oi, Seara, Fifa.com, Itau, Football for hope.
Currently, I have not seen very many promotions from these companies (only one from Continental in England). I assume that most are waiting for the cup to get a little closer to capitalize on the building interest of fans and general increase of marketing efforts by all. It is a good idea to look out for these promotions as the cup draws nearer, especially if you are unsuccessful with FIFA.com or your PMA.
C) Tickets you won’t get
About 380 thousand of them will go to Customer Groups (FIFA, Local Organizing Committee and Member Associations) who are free to do with those tickets as they please. Mostly that means, employees, friends, business associates and such will receive the tickets. If you know anyone working for these organizations, you are in luck. However, for most people, these tickets are unattainable. Additionally, you can forget about another 66 thousand tickets that will be going to broadcast partners, 50 thousand that will be going to the government (I assume the Brazilian govt.) and 50 thousand to stadium workers.
It goes without saying that you should take your particular interests into account, however the more flexible you are in teams, cities and dates, the more likely you are to have a successful ticket application.
Tip 1: Apply late for Tickets in Random Selection Stages
FIFA provides you with a pretty handy tool that allows you to see the demand for particular games or ticket series. Green means low demand, Yellow medium demand and red high.
The longer you wait, the better information you have on the demand, and since it does not matter when you apply during the random selection stages, you are not at a disadvantage. Here being flexible is definitely an advantage, since you can apply for the tickets that are in low demand.
Tip 2: Be Flexible
The more flexible you are on the games you want to see, the easier it is to get tickets. If you are considering Team Specific tickets, try choosing a less popular team. During every world cup, there are teams and tickets that are harder to get. Due to both proximity and popularity, the first reports from FIFA suggest that Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Columbia and the US will be some of the harder tickets to obtain for this World Cup. Additionally, many of the European powerhouses will also draw a crowd (Germany, Spain, Italy, France). If you try to go for these tickets, you will face stiff competition. As an added bonus, during the first lottery sales stage, the competitor to the less popular team is unknown. Most times, there is at least one popular team in each group, so you will probably see at least one game with a top tier team anyways.
Furthermore, in the first sales phase, the TST tickets will be easier to obtain than the venue specific or individual match tickets. Think about it, TST tickets are based on specific teams and it is not known if a) the team will make the tournament and b) where the team will be playing. With the individual or venue specific tickets, the location of the ticket is known, and people can already start their trip planning.
If you do decide on a venue specific series, stay away from Rio (major tourist destination) and Sao Paulo (largest city in Brazil). Instead try Belo Horizonte, which is the capital of Minas Gerais and about 6 hours from Rio and 7 hours from Sao Paulo by car.
Tip 3: Choose Category 1 (or 2) and TST 7
If you can afford it, apply for Category 1 or 2 tickets. For these tickets, you can check a box that allows you to be eligible for a lower category if tickets in the higher category are unavailable. That means for Category 1 tickets, you also have the possibility to receive Category 2 or 3. With Category 3 you limit yourself to just one category.
Similarly, if you apply for TST 7 tickets, you can check a box to accept a lower TST if there is one available. That means, the higher the number of games applied for in a TST series, the greater the number of chances to get tickets.
In both cases, you will still be entered into the random drawing for the category or TST of your choice. Only if you are unsuccessful will FIFA try to match you with tickets in a lower category or TST.
Tip 4: Have Friends with extra tickets
FIFA puts a limit per household on the number of tickets you can apply for per game (four) and the number of total games (seven) for a total of 28 tickets. In your application, you must fill out the contact details and passport numbers of yourself and all guests.
FIFA will likely cross check your “guests” with other applications to make sure that the guest hasn’t already applied in another application. They do this because they don’t want you to be eligible for more than 7 matches, as it would violate the above regulation. It is thus not advisable to be an applicant and a guest on another person’s application or a guest on multiple applications.
I know some “households” that have collaborated and maxed out ticket applications per game, in order to give themselves an extra shot at getting tickets. For example, I know a case where two couples each applied for the max amount of tickets (four) for the group stage games of the US. The couples knew that they wanted to travel together and see the same games. Each couple filled out contact information on themselves and two other family members. In that way, they increased their number of applications from 1 to 2. One of the couples was successful, while the other was not. Since one couple had extra tickets, they provided those tickets to the other couple.
After a successful application, FIFA allows you to apply for a transfer of tickets to a new guest(s); only the main applicant name can not be changed. FIFA states that there must be a pre-exisiting relationship between the parties. Additionally, you can sell your tickets back to FIFA (minus a 10 per cent handling fee), provided that the game in question is sold out, through a resale platform to be opened during 2014 by FIFA.
Note: FIFA states that “Ticket Holders may not sell, offer for sale, offer at auctions, resell, donate, act as a commercial agent for another party or otherwise transfer their ticket in any way, without the specific prior written consent of FIFA.” and that “If you, or one of your guests are no longer able to attend a match, there will be a Transfer & Resale platform available for your use via FIFA.com/tickets. Details will be posted on www.fifa.com/tickets nearer the time.”
I encourage everyone to follow the rules of FIFA. For regulations and rules of FIFA, please see the following link http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/organisation/ticketing/ticket-transfer-resale/policy/index.html
Tip 5: Make Friends at the cup
Sometimes you just are not able to get the exact ticket that you want. I know many people who have gone to past world cups without tickets to their game of choice. Since they were flexible, they were however able to get tickets to other matches. They then made friends at the cup and traded tickets with someone who wanted what they had and had what they wanted.
If you don’t have any tickets at all, making friends along the way can still drastically improve your chances of getting tickets. During the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, a friend of mine met some guys from an ivy league soccer team at a fast food joint on his way from Johannsuburg to Durbin. He hung out with them for a bit and eventually found out that they had extra ticket for the Switzerland vs. Spain game. They wanted a fellow American to have the ticket so they gave it to him at face value (plus a free meal). By being open to meeting new people, he got to see the only loss Spain had on its way to Cup glory! If he had tried to buy the tickets at the game itself, he would have definitely paid a higher price and also ran the risk of buying fake tickets.
Note: FIFA states that you should obtain written approval of any transfer and you should have a pre-existing relationship with the individual. If not FIFA may deny your request. Additionally, FIFA says each ticket should only be used by the approved individual. FIFA has the right to question where or from whom you have obtained your ticket. However, at all of the world cups I have been to, my identity has not been checked and cross referenced with my ticket.
Tip 6: Know a Brazilian
Did you know that there were 196 millions Brazilians alive in 2011? That’s a lot of people that have access to 35% more tickets than you. Remember that there is a whole section that only Brazilians can apply for? Also, the Brazilians are currently paying 20% less than you are due to the exchange rate. So go out, meet some Brazilians. They are nice people. I can vouch for them. My girlfriend is one.
Tip 7: Use your PMA (Participating Member Association)
Many times fans totally forget to use their national football club to get tickets. Remember they are allocated tickets too. In 2006, we were unable to get tickets through FIFA, however USSoccer came through like a champ.
Bonus: Increase your probability of getting tickets to the Final
A ticket to the final is probably the hardest to track down. If you are willing to throw down the cash, a TST 7 ticket maybe the answer. The TST 7 ticket includes all games (including the final) for a particular team. As stated before there are teams that are more popular than others. If you are planning to be at the world cup the entire time or would like to see the later round action, applying for a TST 7 from a less popular team can be a good way to ensure a game in each round. By the end of the first sales stage, you will have a better idea of which teams will most likely make the tournament, so the recommendation to wait until the end of the first round phase still applies. For example, right now Bosnia Herzegovina has a very good chance to make the Cup (tied for first with Greece in their qualifying group), but the demand for the tickets will probably be relatively low compared to some of the others mentioned earlier. If they lose in the group stage or second round, then you simply follow the team that beat them all the way to the finals. Although the above strategy is good for securing tickets to the entire cup, most people can not take a 30 day long vacation. That being said, I know some people that are planning on splitting the tickets between friends, so that one group goes to the first round games, and the second group to the later rounds.
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