World Cup ticket prices set, on sale Augst 20
Fans will pay a standard US$90 for tickets to see World Cup matches in Brazil next year, US$10 more than in 2010 in South Africa.
Announcing ticket rates Friday, FIFA said US$15 seats will be available to Brazilian students, people over 60 and members of social programs. In 2010, South African residents could pay $20.
Host nation residents will have access to at least 400,000 discounted tickets from the publicly available total of about 3 million.
However, international fans must pay from US$440 to US$990, in three category bands, to see the July 13 final at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
FIFA said prices start at US$220 for the opening match in Sao Paulo on June 12. Top category seats will cost US$495.
At the other 47 group-stage matches, seats costs US$90 in the cheapest Category 3 band. Category 1 tickets will cost US$175.
Prices for international fans are about 10 percent more than four years ago in South Africa, meaning these fans may be picking up the bill for discounts to Brazilians.
The concessions to Brazilians were stipulated in a so-called World Cup bill approved last year by the Brazilian Congress. Portions of the bill - parts that grant FIFA certain tax concessions - have been called unconstitutional and are being appealed to the country's supreme court.
"The ticketing strategy shows important achievements that Brazil has obtained, which were included in the World Cup law," Deputy Sports Minister Luis Fernandes said at the ticket announcement.
Despite the discounts, the prices are out of reach for most people in Brazil, where the average official minimum monthly salary is about US$340.
At Rio recently renovated Maracana stadium, the price of the least expensive seats have increased 30 times in eight years.
Brazil will spend about US$14 billion on next year's World Cup. The price tag was a focus of violent street protests that took place during the Confederation Cup last month, the warm-up for the World Cup.
The protests have continued with complaints about poor schools, hospitals and public services contrasted with the lavish spending on the World Cup - and an equal amount on the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
FIFA marketing director Thierry Weil called on Brazilian authorities to have all 12 World Cup stadiums ready by a December 31 deadline set by FIFA. Four of the six stadiums used for the Confederations Cup were late being delivered, causing ticketing confusion with some fans entering with tickets - only to find no corresponding seats, Weil said.
"We need the stadiums in time for the World Cup to be ready and to be prepared," he said.
He also said ticket pick-up locations had to be better situated, adding that tickets would be available at the airports in all 12 host cities.
Air travel will be the main way to get around the continent-size country. Many of Brazil's airports are outdated - notably those in Rio and Sao Paulo - with domestic connections expensive and difficult to make.
"For the World Cup, what we need to do is, we need to have ticket centers in the right locations," Weil said.
Tickets for the World Cup will be sold globally from August 20 on fifa.com. The first sales phase ends October 10, and a random draw will allocate seats for oversubscribed matches.
A second sales phase opens December 8, after the 32-team draw is made and the match schedule confirmed.
FIFA said buyers can request a maximum of four seats per match, and for a maximum of seven matches.
FIFA said an additional 450,000 tickets have been reserved for a corporate client program, which FIFA licensed to MATCH Hospitality for US$120 million.
The total number of available tickets will not be finalized until the 12 stadiums are completed, FIFA said.