Later today I’ll be making my way to Lisbon before continuing tomorrow to Recife, Brazil for the 2014 World Cup. It definitely hasn’t sunk in yet and with things being being so busy of late, I think it will only really hit me when I’m sitting on the plane – I’m heading to what’s regarded by many as the spiritual home of football for the World Cup. Wowzers!
It’s crazy to think that it has been almost four years since I left the Cayman Islands and made my way back home for the 2010 World Cup. That was the start of an almost indescribable two years that took me just about round the world to London and the 2012 Olympics via the Cricket World Cup in India and the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, both in 2011. Football is to Brazil what cricket is to India and rugby to New Zealand and I’m super grateful for having the ability to experience Brazil 2014.
I’m often asked how we were able to get tickets and I wanted to explain how we went about things. Some of these points below are Brazil specific, others are more general, but they’re all equally important:
1) Register on the official ticketing website to be notified of ticketing information – (General)
The first thing to do with any sporting event is to register with the official ticketing website to ensure you are on all ticketing update e-mails. The official site is most times the site of the host organisation be it FIFA, the ICC or a rugby union.
For the bigger tournaments like world cups, this can be done more than a year in advance and it ensures you’re kept up to speed with any and all ticketing related information.
2) Understand the ticketing rules and dates – (General)
It’s vital to properly understand not only the ticketing release dates but also the rules. In my experience, most people miss out on tickets because they were not aware they had been released and once they do, it’s too late.
With the Football World Cup, phases two and three are first come first served while phase one is a ballot over two months. Thus it makes no difference whether you apply on day 1 or day 59, you’ll have an equal chance of securing a ticket. In fact it makes sense to apply as late as possible.
The reason for this is that ticket availability is marked as red, orange or green with red meaning almost no availability, orange meaning limited availability and green lots of availability. Importantly, this changes over time as people apply for tickets. That availability was monitored in conjunction with our planned area (see below) and dictated to a large degree the tickets we would apply for. We had our first choice options but there was definitely a back-up plan if necessary although as it turned out, our first choice options were all green, which was very lucky.
3) Identify which part of the country you would like to see – (Brazil specific)
In a country as large as Brazil, in my opinion it’s imperative to plan to see one area. To see the ‘whole’ country would take more time and money than we had so there’s no point in trying.
(Note that this attitude was adopted only after Bafana Bafana failed to qualify. If they had, like many passionate fans we would be following them around, which in a country the size of Brazil would be extremely difficult. And if that was the case we would have applied for the ‘Follow Your Team’ Package).
My recommendation would be to plot the host cities on a rough map and to note the distances between venues. Once you’ve done that, decide on an area you’d like to see where there games being held. Since Dyl and I had both visited Rio before, and made our way south to Argentina from there, we decided to explore the northern coast line. This decision was based on the fact that there we some five or six games over a two week period across the northern beach cities of Recife, Natal and Fortaleza, as well as heaps of awesome non-football things to see and do.
4) Understand how the ticketing categories work – (General)
In the football world cup, there are three tiers of tickets available. You can also apply for a higher category but tick that you’d accept a lower category, which increases your chance of success. Thus we applied for Category Two tickets and ticked that we were also happy to accept Category Three. In fact, we would have preferred Category Three tickets since they would be cheaper but as it turns out we were allocated Category Two.
5) Put a reminder on your phone and apply immediately – (General)
Where it is first come first served, you need to put a reminder on your phone for a few hours before tickets are released. And while it may be stating the obvious, it’s vital to apply as close to that opening time as possible. Be sure to understand which time zone the official website uses! We’ve had to apply for tickets in the middle of the night before and while a few hours may not make any difference, I prefer not to take the chance. There is simply no substitute for applying early.
So those are a few ‘pointers’ on how we secured tickets and I really hope it helps you get to that next sporting event.