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Volume 10 No. 22

International Football

Officials from FIFA and Brazil's LOC said that tickets to next summer's World Cup in Brazil "will cost approximately 10% more than tickets to the 2010 event in South Africa," according to Kevin Baxter of the L.A. TIMES. Int'l fans will have to pay as much as $990 for a seat at next July's final, "while the cheapest tickets for a group-play game" will sell for $90. In an apparent nod to the demonstrators, who were protesting the country's massive expenditures -- estimated at $13.4B -- "on the World Cup rather than on healthcare, education and other public service, a special ticket category for Brazilians was established." Locals will be able to buy tickets to any of the 47 group games, "excluding the June 12 opener in Brasilia featuring Brazil," for as little as $30. The elderly, students and people receiving social benefits "will get a further 50% price reduction, which will allow some Brazilians to attend matches" for as little as $15. Brazil Deputy Sports Minister Luis Fernandes said the idea of discounted tickets for the elderly was "initially resisted immensely." Fernandes said of overcoming that opposition, "That was a major achievement." In addition, 60,000 free tickets "will be distributed to those who did construction work on the World Cup stadiums." FIFA Marketing Dir Thierry Weil said, "These prices are extremely competitive" (L.A. TIMES, 7/19).

DISCOUNTED TICKETS: In N.Y., Cowley & Jelmayer wrote Weil said, "This will be the second time in FIFA's history that there will be discounts on certain tickets. This had only happened in the 1950 World Cup, also held in Brazil, showing that Brazilian government is a good negotiator." Nonetheless, "prices are considered expensive in Brazil." Despite strong growth and relative economic stability over the last two decades, "Brazil remains a relatively poor country," and the average salary is around $835 per month, about one-quarter of the U.S. monthly average of $3,583 (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/19). BLOOMBERG's Tariq Panja wrote entry to the opening game in Brasilia, "which will feature Brazil, the host and record five-time champion," will cost between $220 and $495. Visitors "wanting to attend the final" will have to pay a minimum of $440. That compares with $400 for the final of the 2010 World Cup in Johannesburg, "where the most expensive entry cost" $900. The games "were the first in the country's history to assign seats to spectators used to arriving at stadiums and choosing where to sit, or stand." The World Cup "will be an all-seated event." The income from ticket sales "will go toward the hosting costs." In South Africa, revenue from tickets amounted to $300M after FIFA said it sold 97.5% of the 3 million seats available. Some spaces remained empty "after sponsors and other FIFA partners failed to take up their seat allocation," which amounts to about 20% of the total available (BLOOMBERG, 7/19).

'NO SURPRISES': The BBC reported the FIFA ticket website "will include a map of the ground that shows the location of different categories of tickets." Weil said this meant there would be "no surprises" over where fans would end up sitting. Supporters "can request a maximum of four seats per match, and for a maximum of seven matches." Weil said that there would be a reselling system run by FIFA "if people were unable to attend games for which they had bought tickets" (BBC, 7/19). The AP reported tickets for the World Cup "will be sold globally from Aug. 20 on" The first sales phase ends Oct. 10, "and a random draw will allocate seats for oversubscribed matches." A second sales phase opens Dec. 8, "after the 32-team draw is made and the match schedule confirmed." FIFA said that an additional 450,000 tickets "have been reserved for a corporate client program," which FIFA licensed to MATCH Hospitality for $120M. FIFA said that "the total number of available tickets will not be finalized until the 12 stadiums are completed" (AP, 7/19).

One year and £16B ($24B) after Euro 2012, the novelty of hosting Poland's first major sports event in history seems to have worn off, "and Poland has begun to ask difficult questions about the legacy of the tournament," according to Wiktor Szary of the LONDON TIMES. According to the data released by the country's Institute of Tourism, Poland's profits from co-hosting the event amounted to a mere £200M -- "a sum not far off what UEFA wired back to Geneva after the tournament and a paltry 1.25 per cent of Poland's total Euro 2012-related spendings." The "gloomy economic climate might be to blame, but the event failed to noticeably boost tourism in the country:" while a poll conducted among 2,000 foreign visitors during the championship finals indicated that most of them were hoping to come back and that nearly all of them would recommend Poland as a holiday destination, this has so far translated into a rather disappointing tourist activity growth figure of 4% -- just 500,000 additional foreign visitors on top of the usual 13.5 million. The large, purpose-built tournament venues "are also proving less than profitable." Four brand-new stadiums "were built in the five years preceding the tournament." Today, the four white elephants struggle to make a profit, "with the Polish Ministry of Sport having to resort to such desperate measures as subsidising Madonna's concert at the Warsaw Stadium and considering moving all of its offices there to help the company in charge of the venue break even." Meanwhile, several large companies involved in building the new infrastructure "have fallen prey to a lethal price war over the state tenders and gone bust, dragging the whole construction industry into recession." But while it is true that Poland is yet to reap any tangible financial profits from co-hosting the championship finals, "experts point to the vast investment in infrastructure that the country had to make in the run-up to the event as the main long-term benefit" (LONDON TIMES, 7/20).

Abu Dhabi’s investment in Man City and other European clubs tops $1.5B, "but most clubs in the United Arab Emirates’ domestic league play in near-empty stadiums and often rely on government largesse to survive," according to REUTERS. The local game has "big ambitions yet little chance of realising them due to the country’s small population which is apathetic about domestic teams." Emiratis are "hugely proud of Man City’s Premier League and FA Cup successes" since Owner Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan bought the club in '08. Emirates Airlines’ sponsorship of Ligue 1 Paris St. Germain, Serie A AC Milan and Premier League Arsenal’s 60,000-capacity Emirates Stadium is "also a source of prestige." UAE FA President Yousuf Al-Serkal said that these investments "have not directly benefited the domestic game." Serkal: "We haven’t seen any cooperation between those clubs and our clubs or the national team." The low attendances "undermine the UAE's aims of producing a competition that will ultimately rival the best in Asia." Competition organizer Pro League Committee CEO Colin Smith said, "I don't think it's impossible." Among UAE clubs, only Abu Dhabi's Al Jazira stadium has a capacity greater than 20,000 and although the league does not publish attendance figures, crowds are often only in the hundreds. UAE club Al Ahli Chair Abdullah Al-Naboodah said, "What we lack is revenue generation from ticket sales. This is a problem in the United Arab Emirates -- because we are trying to promote more people coming to the stadium, we are giving them free tickets, but this kind of culture needs to change." Local media report that "some clubs even pay supporters to attend matches." This has "boosted the stadium atmosphere but for clubs meant to run along commercial lines it appears a dubious strategy" (REUTERS, 7/19).

Spanish sports newspaper Marca's Twitter (@Marca) following reached 1.5 million people on Saturday, making it Spain's sports media leader on Twitter and the fourth-most followed media outlet in the country. Marca also has a Facebook presence and is "close to reaching" one million friends, which gives it the most followers of any Spanish media outlet's Facebook page (MARCA, 7/20). ... The Spanish Football League (LFP) has announced it will form a Department of Integrity in a bid to "tackle match fixing and fraud in the Spanish game" (INSIDE SPANISH FOOTBALL, 7/20).