Some of the best moments in life are those that come unexpectedly and at the spur of the moment; from meeting someone new and ending up at a crazy party, to waking up in a different time zone after falling asleep on a train. Some experiences, on the other hand, require meticulous planning well in advance in order to optimize your time and resources. Attending the World Cup is one such example. When hordes of people gather in the same place at the same time to celebrate the world’s most popular sport, every minute you wait will make a difference in whether you’ll spend a fortune or come in on side with your budget. Spending time upfront to get your World Cup experience organized will ensure you can attend, and afford to attend, one of the most exciting celebrations in the world. Here are a few tips to help you get started:


Getting Tickets

Tickets can be purchased on either the FIFA website, or through a given country’s football federation. Note that this last one applies only for team-specific tickets. For example, if you buy tickets from the FIGC (Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio), you will only be able to buy tickets for Italian games.

Another way of getting tickets is by purchasing packages from travel agencies. This is a good option if you just want the World Cup experience and don’t really care which match you see; however, this may not be the cheapest option. Packages will include flights, accommodation, and a number of game tickets all marked up by the seller and venues to ensure a healthy round of World Cup profits.

Lastly, there is always the option to buy them right before the game. This option is a gamble, since tickets can cost as much as twice the face value – if you’re lucky.  This will all depend on the game that you are trying to see. For example, a Germany-England ticket in South Africa could cost as much as US$500 (when the most expensive face value ticket was US$200). On the other hand, people might struggle to sell tickets for a Paraguay-Japan game (which was also in the “Round of 16” stage).


The Dates

The World Cup is held every four years, with, of course, Brazil coming up in 2014. After that, the games will be hosted by Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022. It is usually held between the months of June and July – however, FIFA is evaluating whether to make an exception for Qatar, given that the country’s extreme summer temperatures could affect players and spectators alike.

As mentioned, in order to score tickets, fans need to create an account in FIFA.com. This is the only way to buy tickets at face value. There are several stages to buy tickets. These typically include two random draw stages, two ‘first come, first served’ stages, and a final stage immediately before the tournament commences. Dates for these stages will depend on how organized a country is.

For South Africa 2010, the first stage began on February 2009. Brazil’s first stage began on August 20th of this year. Demand for next World Cup’s tickets has been high – anyone who logged onto FIFA.com on Monday, November 11th, can testify to that. After just 7 hours, second phase tickets were completely sold out.

Anyone interested in getting their hands on remaining tickets should mark their calendars and set their alarms for the following dates:

December 8th, 2013: random draw, open until January 30th, 2014. Note that during this phase, it doesn’t matter whether you apply at the beginning or at the end.

February 26th, 2014: First come, first served phase. This phase lasts until April 1st, 2014 and tickets are allocated to whomever grabs them first.

April 15th, 2014: Last minute phase, which lasts up until the very last day of the tournament, July 13th, 2014. It is also on a first come, first served basis.


The Tickets

For Brazil 2014, there are 3 different ticket options, compared to South Africa 2010, which only had two. Fans will also have the option to have tickets delivered by mail, which is another new feature for this World Cup. Each applicant can apply for up to four people per application.

Individual Match Tickets: This one allows a person to select random, spread out matches that may have no relation to each other whatsoever. This is a great option for someone who doesn’t really mind who’s playing, and also for people that want to know definitively where they’ll be and when. The downside to this option during the first two phases is that, unless you apply for A1 (Brazil) tickets, you won’t know what match you have until December 6th.

Team Specific Tickets: These tickets are great for die-hard fans, and not so great for planning freaks. The good thing about these tickets is that they guarantee you’ll be supporting the team of your preference, as long as they are qualified. The bad thing is that you cannot book internal flights or accommodations until December 6th, when the groups are made. Even then, if you have tickets past the group stage, you still don’t know where you’ll be headed. This is probably the best option for people with a sense of adventure and an expandable pocket. Team Specific Tickets are sold in batches of minimum of 3 tickets (the group stage) up to 7 tickets (all the way to the final) per person.

Venue Specific Tickets: These are sets of tickets for a specific venue-city. Great for those who want to experience the World Cup but aren’t attached to a particular team. Also a good option for people who want to know where they’ll be and book accordingly as soon as possible.


The Draw

December 6th, 2013 is the date when the World Cup groups will be formed. People with Team Specific Tickets and Individual Match Tickets will be watching anxiously since their itineraries depend on that. There is a way to predict your options if your team is a seeded team. Seeded teams are those that will be the “leaders” of the group, so to speak. Group seeding is done by selecting the host nation plus the seven top-ranked FIFA teams. For this year, the group seeds go to Brazil (A1) and the following nations: Spain, Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Switzerland, Belgium and Uruguay.

If you are following team Brazil, you will want to book flights and accommodation for any game that says A1. For all other seeded teams, you may want to do a list of all the possible #1 games, since seeds are always the head of the group. While you will only know for sure what #1 your team will be after December 6th, for organization’s sake, knowing your options in order to act upon them right away is better than not knowing them at all.


What World Cup Tickets Will Cost

The cost of your trip will all depend on what type of trip you are planning and the length of your stay. The cheapest components of a World Cup experience are actually the tickets themselves (if you buy them through FIFA – a Category 3 TST ticket set of three matches is US$297). Keep in mind that Brazil is not a cheap country to begin with, and the price of absolutely everything will go up during the World Cup, from accommodations to food and transportation. A good estimate for someone who wants to travel on a budget (i.e. no major luxuries) would be US$6,000 for two weeks (not including the return flight to Brazil).

Planning a trip for the World Cup may be a bit overwhelming for someone who has never done it before, but organization and planning will certainly pay off once you are experiencing the tournament first hand.

Have you been to a World Cup before? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!


Update: As of November 20th, all nations have already qualified and FIFA released the pots for the draw on December 6th

Pot #1 (seeded countries) Brazil, Spain, Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Belgium, Switzerland and Uruguay

Pot #2 Netherlands, Italy, England, Portugal, Greece, Bosnia, Croatia and Russia

Pot #3 Chile, Ivory Coast, France, Ecuador, Ghana, Algeria, Nigeria and Cameroon

Pot #4 USA, Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras, Japan, Iran, South Korea and Australia


Photos courtesy of Flickr, mikkelz, Mohammed Moosa, Carlos Ortega; and Delgado Ranalli

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Laura Delgado Ranalli

Laura Delgado Ranalli

Laura was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, but has lived in cities including Sydney, Toronto, Montreal, and Florence and considers herself a citizen of the world. She currently lives in San José, Costa Rica, where she’s opening a boutique for emerging Latin designers. She is a football (soccer) junkie, loves extreme sports and adventure, and enjoys cooking (or anything related with food, to be honest). She also has a passion for learning about WWII and the Holocaust.

Departful is a travel magazine that provides accessible, relevant, and thoughtful travel tips and ideas to inspire people to explore the world around them. We feature travel articles, travel tips, and photography based on our own experiences from over 100 countries covering all things adventure, culture, food and drink, technology, and gear. Made with ❤ in Toronto.

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