$15 tickets to soccer’s World Cup? Only if you’re Brazilian
Tickets for next year's World Cup soccer tournament in Brazil will go on sale for as little as $15, the tournament's governing body, FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association), announced on Friday. Football fans will be able to buy the tickets from Saturday.
The bargain-rate tickets will only be available to Brazilians though, who must either be students, over-60, or receiving social benefits. For international football fans, ticket prices will start at $90.
The low cost of tickets for Brazilians may be in response to tickets sales difficulties experienced at the last World Cup, which was in South Africa in 2010.
For South Africa, FIFA chose to release extra tranches of its cheapest tickets, because few domestic football fans were purchasing seats. 2010's cheapest tickets were priced at $20, and as for Brazil, were only available to domestic football fans.
Despite Brazilians' love for soccer, football games in Brazil also struggle with low ticket sales. The average attendance for the 2011 season in Brazil's top division was slightly below 15,000, according to Deloitte research published last year, some way behind top European leagues. For instance, attendances at games for England's Premier League and Germany's Bundesliga average out at around 40,000. Germany's top league is the best attended league in the world, and tickets can cost as little as 15 euros ($20).
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But Deloitte was hopeful that Brazil's hosting of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and the investment in stadia that will accompany it, will provide a springboard for clubs to improve the matchday experience for spectators, allowing them to increase both attendances and ticket prices.
Joaquim Levy, CEO of Bradesco Asset and former secretary of the Brazilian treasury, said that It was important FIFA had a sustainable business model for selling tickets, but stressed that all Brazilians needed to feel part of the tournament, and the country must ensure there was a legacy left afterwards.
"Everybody in Brazil loves soccer," Levy told CNBC. "When I was a child you'd get 10 percent of the population going to a game over a period of a month. Then it really shrunk for a number of reasons, so I hope we take this opportunity to reverse that."
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The announcement about ticket prices was initially due to be made on July 1, but media reports suggested it was postponed due to ongoing unrest in Brazil. However, Jerome Valcke, FIFA's secretary general, has denied this.
Major cities Sao Paulo, Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro have all seen protesters spill onto the streets, with a total of 200,000 people marching during several high profile demonstrations last month, as a wave of discontent spread throughout the country. Protests are still ongoing, marring a warm-up Confederations Cup tournament that was staged in Brazil in June. Demonstrators have cited anger over the high cost of the World Cup, corruption and poor public services.
Sepp Blatter, the president of FIFA, admitted on Thursday said that protests needed to stop before the World Cup, according to the Financial Times.
"If this happens again in 2014, then we might have to question whether we made the wrong decision awarding the hosting rights to Brazil," Blatter said. "However, this will not happen. I am confident that Brazil will deliver a great FIFA World Cup."
Levy said the demonstrations were not just about angry people going through hardship.
"All these people protesting, they are employed, they go [to protests] after their jobs," Levy said. The unrest should be seen as positive, he said, adding that it was simply the people of Brazil showing the government "who is boss", and should not be misread by politicians.
"Let's focus, let's not waste this time and improve some things in government," he said.