How does one plan a world cup trip?? A group of friends and I want to do it, but nobody knows how...
June 13, 2011 9:31 AM   Subscribe

How does one plan a world cup trip?? A group of friends and I want to do it, but nobody knows how...

A lot of friends and I have kicked around the idea of going to Brazil in 2014 for the world cup... obviously that's quite a ways away, but I feel like you have to plan these things early.

Questions that immediately jump out are how to get tickets (duh), how to get tickets to the big games, how people normally plan out the cities they go to (given that games are played all over), where people stay (hostels?).

I guess it's just awkward to plan because you have to plan it so far in advance, and there's the uncertainty around cities and games etc. Any and all advice would be awesome!
posted by wooh to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I went to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Here's mostly how it worked:

1. In May of 2009 I applied for match specific tickets. This means I looked at the schedule and decided, "Hey, I'll take match #19 in Cape Town, match #6 in Johannesburg, and match #26 in Durban." At the time I had no idea what teams would be playing in these matches and picked them solely on the amount of time I'd thought I'd be in the country and how I planned on getting between these cities (these aren't the actual matches I picked, I'm just making them up to illustrate the process.)

I could have chosen to apply for team specific tickets, meaning I could have said, "Who cares where and when the games are, I just want all the first round games for USA, or England, or France, or whatever."

I didn't do this mostly because I tried in 2006 for USA team specific tickets and got shut out so this time around I took the opposite approach. I'm a big enough soccer/football nut that watching any team at this level play is a big deal to me, but it's certainly a different experience than following your own country and being emotionally involved in the outcomes of the matches. If I do another WC trip, I'd almost certainly choose to follow a specific team (USA in my case).

2. Two or three weeks later I was notified that I had successfully gotten tickets for match #19, but not #6 or #26. The ticketing application window was still open, so I went through a similar process and applied for some more tickets.

3. Another few weeks pass and I find out I had gotten tickets to another 2 or 3 matches and I decided that was enough for me. Again, at the time I had no idea what teams I'd be seeing, only that I had tickets to several matches.

4. I started to piece together an itinerary like you would for any other trip, looking at airfare and hotels and rental cars and trains and etc. It was still over a year away so it was a bit hard to do with any real specificity.

5. December of 2009 comes and FIFA does the drawing to figure out who is playing in each of the match numbers. That's when I found out who I'd actually be seeing.

6. Booked airfare, hotels, transit, etc. like you would any other trip over the next 4-5 months.

7. I showed up in South Africa a day before the first match I was seeing, went to a kiosk in a mall and used the credit card I purchased my tickets with to print out the actual match tickets. This is the first time I had anything in paper from FIFA. Previous to that it was all email confirmations and website profiles.

I'm considering maybe going to Brazil in 2014, but there's not much to do about it this far in advance. Around the beginning of 2013 I imagine you'll start to see info from FIFA about when the ticketing application system will be opening (assuming they do it in a similar manner).

This is a bit long-winded, but I remember being a bit lost to start with when I got going, so hopefully the detail will give you a better sense of what to expect, or at least how the process worked in the previous WC cycle.
posted by dyobmit at 11:44 AM on June 13, 2011 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: dyobmit, that was REALLY helpful. Do you think it'd be possible to follow a specific team? I like the match specific approach...somehow I doubt we're going to be able to follow USA, and I doubt anyone is going to want to follow Uruguay with me ;___;

So I guess the biggest thing is to figure out how much we're willing to drop on tickets, and what our buying strategy will be. How much did they end up setting you back?
posted by wooh at 12:25 PM on June 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

dyobmit has explained pretty thoroughly. I applied for Euro 2008 tickets (and wasn't successful). I think we (a friend and I) applied in November 2006 and found out we had failed in March or April of 2007. (Notifications for Euro 2012 went out in April.) World Cup 2006 ticketing was late 2003/early 2004, as I recall.

Keep in mind that everything I'm about to say is from Euro 2008 ticketing, so may be UEFA-specific and not apply to a World Cup. I applied for 'Follow Your Team' tickets for England in the group stage. I needed my passport number to apply, but not, I think, the names or passport numbers of people for the other tickets (I applied for a pair), that would have come later. I live in the US and have British citizenship. I gave my British passport number. I don't think that was obligatory, but there may have been something about citizenship or residency putting you in a different lottery pool. You did need a Mastercard (this was presumably UEFA-specific, or at least sponsorship specific) if you were using a credit card, or a bank account in an appropriate currency (EUR or CHF), if not the country whose tickets you were after, which temporarily caused my friend a bit of a headache.

After all that, we didn't get tickets, realised Switzerland is really expensive and went to Germany for a week instead.
posted by hoyland at 12:34 PM on June 13, 2011

Oh, I meant to mention that for the 'big' games, your best bet (unless you get spectacularly lucky) is to know someone who knows someone (etc) who has position high enough up at a sponsor to get tickets.
posted by hoyland at 12:36 PM on June 13, 2011

and I doubt anyone is going to want to follow Uruguay with me ;___;

I'll follow Uruguay with you!

(Seriously - I'm a huge Uruguay NT nut. I just *love* them, especially Forlan and Cavani and Suarez and the Fernandezes!)
posted by spinifex23 at 12:36 PM on June 13, 2011

OK, back on topic. I don't know for the World Cup, but for other huge sporting and cultural events, hostels and the like usually filled up fast. Even though 2014 is still a ways away, I don't think it'd be out of line to research places to stay now, and to email them to see when one should book for WC lodging.
posted by spinifex23 at 12:44 PM on June 13, 2011

I am actually working with the Brazilian Football Federation in their preparation for the World Cup! Dyobmit is exactly correct in that tickets will not even begin to be available until 2013. Expect that Brazil is going to be a little less organized than the SA World Cup was. Also keep in mind that Brazil is far larger than SA and venues will be MUCH further apart, like the US in '94. Once you get your ticket bids you will want to immediately make lodging arrangements. I would go so far to say that you should buy your plane tickets to Brazil as far in advance as you possibly can. Generally, you will fly into one of three places: São Paulo, Rio or Brasilila (of all places). From there, domestic flights will get you to the other major venues. One caveat: at least for now, Brazilian domestic airlines like Gol and Azul do NOT allow purchases with foreign credit cards. I think that this problem is being addressed, though.
If I could ask one thing of you: Please do not bring a vuvuzela!
Good luck! I'll see you there. One of the perks of my work is getting some choice matches :)
posted by msali at 1:03 PM on June 13, 2011 [3 favorites]

Looking back through my ticket confirmation emails, it looks like the tickets I got were either $120USD or $160USD each. I believe but can't confirm that there were tickets that were both more and less expensive than these, though probably not by too much in either direction.

I forgot to mention hoyland's point about FIFA requiring a passport number on the ticket applications. If you don't have a passport, I'd get one well in advance of the ticketing application window opening so you don't have to worry about it. I can't remember for sure, but I think a friendly volunteer gave a cursory glance to my passport before directing me to an open kiosk when I picked up the tickets. No one ever ensured that the numbers matched up, and I have no idea if FIFA electronically checks the number you enter on the application or is even legally allowed to do so.

I don't know what the statistics are regarding whether you have a better chance of getting tickets by selecting matches or a team. If I had to do it all over again though I'd probably do the opposite to what I did and follow USA through the group stage.

As it was, I got absurdly lucky (in terms of quantity of world class players) in the draw and saw matches with Brazil, Argentina, Ivory Coast, and Portugal (and South Korea!). And I ended up buying some still available tickets to USA v Slovenia once I arrived in Johannesburg as that particular match hadn't sold out.

To see Brazil play in a World Cup; to see the current World Player of the Year play; to hear your country's national anthem played before a match. These are great privileges, and if you have the means and the interest, I highly recommend the experience.
posted by dyobmit at 1:03 PM on June 13, 2011

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