The World Cup is all the rage right now – it is an epic event magnified by its global fanaticism and 4 year interval period. There is some some great world cup coverage surfacing as the event unfolds. Anticipation has been fueled by a very captivating Nike ad campaign:

At SeatGeek we are also excited, so we spent some time getting to understand the World Cup ticket market. We have provided a detailed overview below. At SeatGeek we provide easy access to sold out tickets, but the World Cup market functions very differently with some nuances summarized in the next section (see South Africa Sells Out World Cup Tickets – note 90,000 tickets have subsequently been added to the market on May 27).

World Cup Ticket Summary:

Below we have a quick summary of the world cup ticket market and the 5 phases of ticket sales.

  • 5 phases of ticket sales
  • no ability to apply for tickets between phases
  • Phase 1 began Feb 20 2009
  • Phase 5 terminates on July 11 2010 (the last day of the World Cup)
  • First 4 phases, from 2/20/09 – 4/7/10
  • Ticket applications for tickets that are oversubscribed are processed in 1 of 2 ways
  1. Random lottery
  2. First come first serve

5 Ticket Phases

Phase 1 – December 20, 2009 through March 31, 2009

  • During this phase allocation of oversubscribed tickets was determined by a random drawing on April 15, 2009
  • Each correctly submitted application had an equal opportunity of receiving tickets

Phase 2 –  May 4, 2009 through November 11, 2009

  • Applications received during this stage were processed on a first-come-first-served basis

Phase 3 – December 5, 2009 through January 22, 2010

  • Same process as phase 1
  • The drawing took place on February 1, 2010

Phase 4 – February 9, 2010 through May 7, 2010

  • Same as phase 2

Phase 5 – April 15, 2010 through July 11, 2010

  • Last minute ticket sales
  • Ticket applications processed first come first served – however transaction of tickets are conducted immediately at point of sale

FIFA/World Cup Market Overview

All sales have come through fifa.com, the official FIFA call center, or officially registered distributors. Counterfeit ticket sales have been a significant worry to cup organizers and they have worked with various law-enforcement agencies to crack down on fake or unauthorized ticket sales. Cup organizers have also chosen not to print tickets to matches until weeks before the event in order to prevent forgeries. According to FIFA Secretary General Jérôme Valcke: “Our work with New Scotland Yard is yet another example that we are taking serious steps to stop unauthorized entities from selling 2010 FIFA World Cup tickets…”

Leading up to the World Cup, the vast majority of tickets had already been sold. As of Friday 5/28/10 approximately 96% of the 2.88 million available tickets had been purchased, leaving about 160,000 tickets still available to the general public; this coming after cup organizers released an additional 90,000 tickets, across all 64 matches. Certain matches have more available tickets than others.

With thousands of ticket applicants left disappointed during the first 4 phases of ticket sales, and with their opportunities to legitimately acquire tickets dwindling, naturally there is a large number of people attempting to take advantage of this gap in the supply and demand curves.  Unauthorized dealers have popped up all over the globe, attempting to lure unsuspecting fans into purchasing false or unauthorized tickets, often through ticket inclusive travel packages. The reselling or transfer of purchased World Cup tickets is in violation of both the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ General Terms and Conditions for the Use of Tickets.

There are only two ways to legally and legitimately transfer tickets; either a “Guest Ticket Transfer,” or a “Ticket Resale.” Guest ticket transfers consist of the transfer from one individual to another. The ticket recipient involved in this transaction must have a “pre-existing relationship with the Ticket Applicant,” including “relatives, close friends, colleagues and/or the companions of individuals in wheelchairs or other disabilities.” A “Ticket Resale” is the legitimate sale of tickets by a guest who can no longer attend the match, through an authorized, FIFA regulated platform. These tickets are resold at face value, with an additional 10% administrative fee leveled on the ticket seller.

Ticket holders also have the opportunity to donate unusable tickets to the “Ticket Fund,” which allocates extra tickets to a variety of “worthy social and development initiatives within South Africa.”

Despite these restrictions certain websites on the secondary ticket market continue to offer world cup tickets. A search on stubhub.com revealed no results, however tickets for many matches were available on sites such as razorgator.com and ticketcity.com for substantially inflated prices. On Razorgator, as of June 11, a category 1 seat for the U.S.’s second match, against Slovenia was listed at $250, compared to its face value of $160, an increase of 56%. A category one ticket to the final match was listed at $2,269.00, an increase of 152% over its already hefty list price of $900. Because of the stringent regulations regarding distribution of tickets, razorgator is unable to send the buyer their tickets as they would for any other event. Razorgator therefore has detailed on their site, specifically how the ticket transfer will take place, stating: “Razorgator will send a team of ticket/event specialists to South Africa to offer local delivery of tickets at a number of our courtesy pickup locations. Once your order is placed and confirmed and the tickets are ready for pickup, the courtesy pickup office and hours will be emailed to the address you provided with your order.”

Closing World Cup Ticket Thoughts

Clearly, although difficult, purchasing world cup tickets on the secondary ticket market is still possible. However there are many downsides, such as inflated prices, the ever-present prospect of counterfeits, and the possibility that, if discovered, secondary market ticketholders will be denied entry to the stadium on the day of the match.

Note: there are 3 categories of tickets corresponding to various quality seats, category 1 being the best, and 3 the worst.

Comment below if you have thoughts or join the discussion with us on Twitter.