South American Football Fans Discontented: Rising Costs Limit Access to Wealthier Spectators


South American Football Fans Discontented: Rising Costs Limit Access to Wealthier Spectators

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In soccer-obsessed South America, where the passion for the sport knows no bounds, watching football legends like Lionel Messi in action has become a luxury beyond the reach of many, thanks to soaring ticket prices.

During the September qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup, dedicated fans throughout the continent voiced their discontent over the steep costs associated with attending matches featuring their beloved teams.

Pablo Gonzalez, a 49-year-old maintenance worker at a Colombian university in Barranquilla, lamented, “In my case, it is impossible to afford a ticket. One can’t truly enjoy it.” In Barranquilla, where Colombia was set to play Uruguay, the average ticket price for the match stood at $102, a considerable sum in a country where the minimum monthly wage hovers around $270. According to an AFP survey, these ticket prices rank as the second highest in the region for World Cup qualifiers.

In Argentina, the reigning 2022 World Cup champions, fans hoping to witness Messi’s brilliance on the field were left disheartened as the football federation priced tickets for Thursday’s match against Paraguay at an average of $120. This decision came amid Argentina’s battle against an annual inflation rate of 120 percent and a poverty rate of 40 percent.

In response, Argentina’s football federation introduced a subscription program offering preferential access to match tickets, with a “Gold” category priced at $14,000 for a three-year pass, accompanied by various benefits.

Even Argentina’s coach, Lionel Scaloni, expressed his astonishment at the high ticket prices, revealing that it had cost him a significant amount to purchase tickets for his entire family. He remarked, “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.”

Some fans have decried these prices, which they believe are turning a popular and inclusive sport like football into an exclusive affair.

In Brazil, ticket prices have experienced a sharp increase over the past month, with average prices rising from $63 to $97 for Thursday’s match against Venezuela in Cuiaba.

Chilean captain Arturo Vidal, known for his humble background and seen as a player of the people, also voiced his concerns about ticket prices. He stated, “Tickets are expensive. I have already told the president of the football association to lower them a bit. We need a full stadium.”

According to Chilean media reports, unlike previous qualifiers, it took several days for tickets to sell out.

In Uruguay, football authorities acknowledged their mistake after high prices resulted in thousands of empty seats during a match against Chile in September. Ignacio Alonso, the president of the country’s football association, admitted, “We made a mistake,” and responded by slightly lowering ticket prices. The cheapest seats for the upcoming match against Brazil on October 17 are now available for $22, a $3 reduction from the previous game.


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