It's a seller's market as World Cup tickets go on sale
Updated: 2014-05-12 03:50
By Wang Chao (China Daily Latin America)
Colombia soccer fan Suzana poses after picking up her 2014 World Cup tickets in Rio de Janeiro. Shankai Sports International in Beijing, which has rights to sell ticket and travel package deals in the mainland, Hong Kong and Macao, reckoned it will sell 1,500 of them this year, compared with 700 in 2010. [Photo / Agencies]
Twice as many "hospitality tickets" are expected to be sold in China for the soccer World Cup in Brazil compared with the number sold for the previous finals in South Africa four years ago, the agent in China said.
Shankai Sports International in Beijing, which has rights to sell ticket and travel package deals in the mainland, Hong Kong and Macao, reckoned it will sell 1,500 of them this year, compared with 700 in 2010.
In addition to package deals, the world governing body of soccer FIFA also sells standalone tickets. Of the more than 3 million tickets it expects to sell for the games, which will be played over four weeks beginning on June 12, about 10 percent will be for package deals--the official hospitality packages.
The prices of match tickets range from $90 to $1,250 and the prices of packages, which can include air fares, tickets in premium positions, accommodation, meals and transport to stadiums, cost from 70,000 yuan ($11,200) in China.
Because China failed to qualify for the games, FIFA allocated a limited number of match tickets to the country. For much sought-after tickets for games such as the final, applications of those wanting to buy them go into a ballot.
The hospitality package deals usually include tickets for more than one match. There are four product series: group matches, round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final
A spokesman for the Brazilian embassy in Beijing said those who buy any official tickets are eligible for multiple entries into the country during the competition with no visa fee.
Apart from Shankai Sports, Chinese fans can also buy packages through FIFA's licensed provider Match Hospitality, or through FIFA itself at hospitality.fifa.com.
With kickoff in the opening game less than a month away, competition for tickets is intense, and many unauthorized tickets have sprouted up on the Internet. In at least one case the asking price for a ticket for the final is 60,000 yuan.
FIFA said it is monitoring such sales and has issued warnings to those selling tickets without proper authorization.
"We have identified a significant increase in the number of unauthorized entities in China engaging in the resale of tickets ... (and) such activity presents numerous risks to Chinese fans," FIFA said in a statement.
"Tickets that originate from unauthorized sources are not valid and may very well result in the bearer not being permitted entry."
FIFA also bans the trading of complementary tickets issued to media and sponsors.
During the 2012 European Championship, a Chinese agency that violated the rules by selling tickets meant for sale in China to fans in England had its sales license suspended.
Gong Hua, vice-president of Shankai Sports, said flying overseas to watch sports is becoming increasingly popular among China's middle class."It is very common for Europeans to fly overseas for a football match, but Chinese usually combine such events with tourism."
Sports fans from countries such as Germany, France and England tend to be genuine aficionados of the games they go overseas to see, whereas many Chinese attend the events just to get a taste of the big-event atmosphere, Gong said.
"For some, the only soccer they watch is the World Cup, just as many people tend to watch the Olympic Games even if they normally watch little other professional sport."
The traditional big markets for the World Cup are Europe and the US, Gong said.
Given Brazil's importance in soccer – it has won the World Cup five times, more than any other country – Gong predicted more tickets will be sold than in 2010, when the finals were held in South Africa, which is not a soccer power.
Nevertheless, Shankai Sports' package deal sales that year exceeded those in Japan and South Korea, two of Asia's top soccer playing countries, he said.
During the finals four years ago, more than 1 million overseas tourists visited South Africa, according to official figures.
In Brazil, all major downtown hotels in cities where matches are being played will have been reserved by FIFA, making it extremely difficult to find accommodation. In some cases, accommodation on cruise ships is being offered.