I’ll get it out of the way now, I travel a fair amount for football! When people find out I’ve been to two football FIFA World Cups, I get asked two questions: how much does it cost to go and how did I do it? So here is my article on how to attend a World Cup.
Well, I’m Scottish. The last World Cup our national team made it to was in 1998 and I’ve been to two since. I’ve been to the same amount of World Cups in my life as the Scottish national team has in the same time… So obviously, I’m not too bothered who I watch when I get there! What is the process? How much did my trip in 2010 cost? Considerably more than my competition winning Brazil 2014 visit! I also visited Russia in 2018 through a cheap Avios redemption.
How did I book my trip to the South African World Cup in 2010?
Find a Base City
The World Cup is the biggest football event in the world and only happens every four years so it’s vital that you start planning early. I was fortunate that I had family staying in Johannesburg, South Africa so I could get ahead of the game and plan early. It depends where the tournament is and how big the country is but try and pick a base to stay in. My obvious choice was Johannesburg. I had a look at the number of stadiums nearby and I worked out that, as a base, I could get to three different stadiums easily which helped in the ticketing process.
Are you staying for the whole tournament or like most of us, do you only have a certain amount of days you can go for? The tickets are cheaper at the start of the tournament so if cost is a factor it’s a good thing to take in to consideration. Do you want to see the showcase final? (It’s on my bucket list!) If so, visit for the last week or so but flight prices may be higher. Check the FIFA website to look for dates of games that you could potentially go and see, those that are close to your base city.
If you’re lucky enough to live within driving distance then ignore this one! If you’re not that guy then book flights as soon as practically possible! The cost of flights from major countries to the World Cup country during the month ramps up drastically. Use SkyScanner or a similar website to try and find the best time to visit taking in to account the games you want to see.
When you have your dates sorted, the next thing to look at is accommodation. This will probably be the most expensive aspect of your trip after flights. FIFA run a scheme where residents in host cities can offer up their apartments to FIFA who will then in turn, rent them out to their delegates. This means that the price of staying in a host city can be very expensive during a World Cup month. This may take some time but check the usual comparison websites along with Airbnb to find a suitable place to stay. It’s always best to book early to avoid paying through the roof.
Applying for World Cup Tickets
The tickets are a tricky aspect of the trip. FIFA usually allow you to apply for tickets around one year before the tournament is due to start. Now this is generally a blind ballot where you select a certain number of games that you would be happy to pay for. At this stage you don’t know who is playing and if you’re successful then you have to pay for them. This is complete luck of the draw and you could end up with anything! There are stages after the draw is done where you can apply for tickets knowing what the games are but these ballots are much more competitive before the first come, first served dregs come up for sale.
Prices of World Cup Tickets
The cheapest tickets are category 4 tickets which are generally further away from the pitch. However, these are usually reserved for local people in the host country so that residents can have a chance to attend. The most expensive tickets are category 1 which are the prime seats. That’s if you’re not attending in a hospitality suite! The ticket prices change at each tournament and it gets more expensive as the tournament goes on. Tickets for South Africa were around $80 for a group stage game in category 3 and $120 each for category 2.
Would I Recommend Attending?
Yes! The World Cup is a great tournament to attend. The atmosphere around each game is jovial and fun with people of different cultures mixing and enjoying each others company. I’ve been to two and I’ll certainly be at more! I’ll be posting about my actual visit to the South African World Cup shortly.
World Cup Games I Attended
Netherlands v Denmark – Soccer City Stadium, Category 3 tickets
New Zealand v Slovakia – Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Category 3 tickets
Argentina v Korea Republic – Soccer City Stadium, Category 2 tickets
Brazil v Côte d’Ivoire – Soccer City Stadium, Category 2 tickets
Spain v Honduras – Ellis Park Stadium, Category 3 tickets
My 2010 South Africa World Cup Costs
Car Hire: £225
If you are planning on going to a World Cup and have questions, I’m more than happy to help out. Hopefully this has helped you with tips on how to attend a World Cup.