Pricey Tickets Cause Discontent Among South American Football Enthusiasts.

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Pricey Tickets Cause Discontent Among South American Football Enthusiasts.

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Lionel Messi #10 of Inter Miami CF waves to fans after a loss to FC Cincinnati at DRV PNK Stadium on October 07, 2023 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. – AFP Pic”

Bogotá: In football-crazed South America, where passion for the sport transcends social boundaries, the opportunity to witness stars like Lionel Messi in action has become a distant dream for many, thanks to exorbitant ticket prices.

During the September qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup, devoted fans across the continent expressed their discontent with the soaring costs of attending matches featuring their beloved teams.

“For me, it’s just not feasible,” lamented Pablo Gonzalez, a 49-year-old maintenance worker at a university in the Colombian town of Barranquilla, where his nation is set to face off against Uruguay on Thursday.

The average ticket price for the match stands at $102, a staggering figure in a country where the minimum monthly wage is a mere $270.

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In the race for World Cup qualification, ticket prices in South America have reached staggering heights, with Argentina leading the pack as the second most expensive in the region.

Argentina, the reigning champions of the 2022 World Cup, left many fans disheartened by setting ticket prices for Thursday’s match against Paraguay at an average of $120. This comes amidst a backdrop of annual inflation at 120 percent and poverty levels soaring to 40 percent.

To mitigate this, Argentina’s football federation has introduced a subscription program, offering preferential access to match tickets. The top-tier “Gold” category demands a hefty $14,000 for a three-year pass, complete with a range of perks.

Even Argentina’s coach, Lionel Scaloni, expressed his astonishment at the high costs he faced in purchasing tickets for his entire family. “It cost me a lot, like everyone else. But who am I to set the price of tickets? If it was up to me, let people go for free,” he lamented during a press conference.

Candela Thompson, a fan, voiced her concern, noting that some pricing strategies are turning the beloved sport of football into an exclusive affair.

In Brazil, ticket prices have surged over the past month, with Thursday’s match against Venezuela in central Cuiaba seeing an increase from an average of $63 to $97.

Chilean captain Arturo Vidal, known for his humble background, echoed the sentiment. He urged the president of the football association to lower prices for the sake of a packed stadium, emphasizing the need for accessibility.

Unlike previous qualifiers, Chile experienced a delay in selling out tickets, a sign of the growing resistance to steep prices.

Uruguay’s football authorities admitted their miscalculation after high ticket prices led to thousands of empty seats for a match against Chile in September. “We made a mistake,” conceded Ignacio Alonso, the president of the country’s football association, acknowledging that the stadium should have sold 40,000 tickets, but only managed to sell around 31,500.

In response to the widespread discontent, ticket prices for the upcoming match against Brazil on October 17 have been modestly reduced, with the cheapest spots now priced at $22, a $3 reduction from the previous game.

Reference

https://www.nst.com.my/sports/football/2023/10/965207/rich-fans-only-south-americans-grumble-over-cost-watch-football

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