A guide to getting World Cup tickets
Bust out the beach ball and fish out your guide book because the Socceroos are going to Brazil! And while waking up at the crack of dawn to watch the national team on television is a time-honoured tradition, what better way is there to support your country than by attending the 2014 FIFA World Cup in person? It may seem like a logistical pipe dream but it’s not as difficult as it sounds – and I should know because I’ve done it myself.
When John Aloisi converted that famous penalty against Uruguay in November 2005, I was standing high above the corner flag at Sydney’s Olympic stadium. I probably had more reason than most to hope Aloisi slotted home from the spot because I had already enjoyed some success in FIFA’s World Cup ticket ballot. If the Alavés striker scored, the Socceroos – and I – were going to the World Cup finals. As history will demonstrate, Aloisi was unerring from eleven metres and after a 32-year absence, Australia was finally back in the big time.
The first thing you need to know about attending a World Cup is how to get tickets. The website to keep an eye on is FIFA.com because on August 20, the first tickets will go on sale to the general public. Various packages will be made available – from single games to packages allowing you to watch every round of the tournament – but bear in mind that demand for tickets far exceeds supply.
With millions of fans expected to apply for tickets, your first option is to enter the ballot like everyone else. When I applied in 2005, I expected the Socceroos to escape a tough group and qualify for the second round, however my application for a second-round ticket was rejected. It was easy enough to pick one up in Kaiserslautern but the point to remember is that the more premium tickets you apply for, the more competition you’ll face from other fans applying for the same tickets.
If you’re not keen to do the legwork yourself, then another option is to buy tickets as part of a tour package. This can be a hassle-free option, however the key is to ensure your tour company includes genuine match-day tickets as part of their package. Otherwise your last resort – and a supremely risky one at that – is the black market. Given that I was offered $10,000 in Stuttgart for my two tickets to Australia’s game against Croatia, you can bank on this being an expensive proposition.
The other important point to note is that even if you apply for tickets on August 20, you’ll be doing so four months before the tournament draw is made. Don’t pack those bags for Rio just yet because the Socceroos could end up playing anywhere, from the chilly winter climes of Porto Alegre to the Amazonian capital Manaus.
The final draw takes place in Bahia on December 6 and it’s only then that the Socceroos will discover not only their World Cup opponents, but also which cities they’ll be playing in. And with a record 12 cities awarded games across the sprawling expanse of Brazil, you’d better pencil in some serious travel time to your tour itinerary.
At the end of the day, the World Cup is undoubtedly the biggest party on the planet so while it may seem like hard work to get there, the rewards are well worth it. From the opening match in São Paulo to the World Cup final at the legendary Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro, the tournament will be a month-long festival of non-stop partying, cross-cultural revelry and even the odd bit of football. With a little bit of effort, you too can be celebrating on Copacabana beach – all it takes is some forward-planning.