FIFA can rub its hands. Despite the controversy, and despite the unprecedented timing of a global tournament, the 2022 World Cup in Qatar (21 November to 18 December) is shaping up to be a popular success.
The international body and the organising committee officially launched the first phase of ticket sales on Wednesday 19 January at 1pm Doha time. With 10 months to go, international travel still severely disrupted by the pandemic, and only 13 of the 32 qualifying nations known, ticket sales were looking uncertain. It got off to a flying start.
According to FIFA, more than 1.2 million tickets were requested by fans from all over the world in the first 24 hours of sales. Very strong.
Unsurprisingly, the final match attracted the largest number of applications, with 140,000 tickets requested. It is scheduled for 18 December 2022 at the Lusail Stadium, a new 80,000-capacity venue in the final stages of construction. The opening match, scheduled for 18 November between host nation Qatar and a team to be named, generated more than 80,000 applications.
More surprisingly: Qatar is the country from which the most applications have come. Yet its population is less than 2.8 million. Argentina followed in second place, ahead of Mexico, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, England, India, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and holders France.
The rest of the ticket sales process should confirm the trend. This first phase will end on 8 February in the middle of the day. As FIFA points out, fans can submit their applications at any time during this sales phase, without having to rush to the official website. The actual date of submission of the application form is irrelevant. If the number of applications exceeds the number of tickets available for the final, a draw will be held to allocate the tickets.
A second phase of ticket sales, organised on a first-come, first-served basis, will be launched after the first phase, but before the draw, scheduled for 1 April. A final opportunity to buy tickets should be offered after the draw, when all the group stage fixtures are known.
A success, then. Already. However, despite the fine words of FIFA announcing a World Cup 2022 “within the reach of the greatest number of people”, ticket prices have increased compared to the 2018 edition in Russia. It is true that category 4 tickets start at less than 10 euros, but they are reserved for Qatar residents.
For the others, the bill is likely to be high. It will cost between €60 and €194 for a group match, €85 to €242 for a round of 16 match, €182 to €375 for a quarter, €315 to €843 for a semi-final and €533 to €1,417 for the final.
For the packs, the price is set at between 200 and 640 euros for the three group matches. For the full package, including all matches up to the final, the price is between €1,425 and €3,805.
Football Supporters Europe (FSE), a network of European supporters, has made no mistake. A few hours after the launch of ticketing, it denounced on its Twitter account the “most expensive World Cup in history”.