Brazil is getting ready to host the 2014 World Cup, but the news coming out of the South American country are not giving much hope to non-wealthy fans of being able to attend and enjoy the biggest celebration of the soccer world.
According to Portafolio.co, attending the World Cup could cost a fan anywhere between $6,000 and $12,000, and that’s not including the flights to and from Brazil, nor the internal flights within the country during the competition.
Much as it happened in USA 94, and as it will happen again in Russia 2018, traveling from stadium to stadium within Brazil will be costly, as the country’s extension is so great and the distance between the host cities so large, fans will only be able to travel by plane.
The historical evolution of The World Cup
During the French or German World Cups, for example, the high-quality of the railway systems in these countries made it possible for millions of fans to attend the tournament without spending a fortune, and in those cases, the biggest expense was usually the price of the tickets.
That’s also another agent of change in the swift historical evolution of how attending a World Cup has become so expensive. In 1950s final, the average ticket price was about 2% of most industrialized countries’ minimum monthly salary. In Brazil, setting a minimum ticket price at 330 R$ (USD $150), represents half of what minimum wage is at many South American countries, and about a fourth of the US and other European nations.
This goes to show how international soccer has become more of a business than a pure fan based sport. Fans buying tickets bring in lots of cash to FIFA and to clubs and federations all over the planet, but they are not the economic base of the competition anymore. Now, sponsors and TV rights pay for 95% of the show, with the US based operator who won the World Cup rights bid for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments paying over $600 million.
These numbers make it practically impossible for middle-class people to actually attend these games, as not only do they have the option of watching a top notch television production of each match, but since ticket revenues are not key to sustain the business anymore, and there’s such high demand with anyone from anywhere in the world being able to buy tickets online, prices have skyrocketed to unimaginable levels.
Obviously, this doesn’t really face FIFA, as they now the stands will be packed in Brazil no matter what. The only World Cup in recent history where there were empty spots in the stadium was in the 2002 Japan and Korea edition, and even then FIFA deemed the tournament as a great financial success.
That will not be the case in Brazil, a nation that breathes and bleeds soccer, and that has become an economic power in the last years, but the cost of attending is so high that a bit of the mysticism of a true fanatic dreaming all his life of attending a World Cup is slowly dying off.