Rich fans only: South Americans grumble over cost to watch football


Rich fans only: South Americans grumble over cost to watch football

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In September, supporters throughout the continent expressed dissatisfaction regarding the expense associated with attending their beloved team’s matches.

In football-crazy South America, where passion for the sport transcends social divides, watching icons like Lionel Messi play has become an unattainable luxury due to soaring ticket prices.

During the September qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup, devoted fans across the continent voiced their discontent over the exorbitant cost of witnessing their favorite teams in action.

“For me, it’s simply impossible to afford a ticket. It takes away the joy,” lamented Pablo Gonzalez, a 49-year-old university maintenance worker in the Colombian town of Barranquilla, where the national team faced Uruguay.

The average ticket price for the match stood at $102, a significant sum in a country where the minimum monthly wage is just $270. According to AFP calculations, these ticket prices were the second highest in the region for the qualifiers.

In Argentina, winners of the 2022 World Cup, fans hoping to see Messi in action were left disappointed when the football federation set the ticket prices for Thursday’s match against Paraguay at an average of $120.

Argentina is grappling with annual inflation of 120 percent and a poverty rate of 40 percent. To address this issue, the country’s football federation introduced a subscription program that offers preferential access to match tickets. The “Gold” category, for instance, costs $14,000 for a three-year pass, accompanied by various benefits.

Even Argentina’s coach, Lionel Scaloni, remarked on the high cost of tickets, saying, “It was expensive for me, just like everyone else. But who am I to set ticket prices? If it were up to me, I’d let people in for free.”

Fan Candela Thompson expressed her frustration, stating, “Some of these prices are making something as popular as football exclusive.”

In Brazil, ticket prices surged over the past month, increasing from an average of $63 to $97 for Thursday’s match against Venezuela in Cuiaba. Chilean captain Arturo Vidal, known for his humble background, also voiced his concerns.

“Tickets are too expensive. I’ve already asked the president of the football association to lower them a bit. We need a full stadium,” Vidal stated on social media before a match against Colombia in September.

According to Chilean media, ticket sales took longer than usual to sell out. In Uruguay, football authorities acknowledged their mistake after high prices left thousands of seats empty during a match against Chile in September.

“We made an error,” conceded Ignacio Alonso, president of the country’s football association, in remarks to local media. “The evidence is that the stadium was supposed to sell 40,000 tickets but only sold around 31,500.”

In response to the public’s rejection of the prices, ticket costs were slightly reduced. The cheapest seats for a match against Brazil on October 17 are now available for $22, which is $3 less than the previous game.


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