Planning for the FIFA World Cup, Brazil 2014

We started our serious planning for the World Cup almost exactly a year in advance for the World Cup.  Initially, we were ambitious and thinking we would be going to all the Socceroos matches, plus any others we could get tickets to.  Easy, right?

Clearly I hadn’t really ever paid particularly close attention to Brazil on a map.  I consider myself fairly well informed when it comes to geography but wow, this country is so much more massive than I thought.  Now Australia is big, I know that much, but if you take out Perth, all of our major cities are reasonably close together.  In Brazil, everything seems like Perth.

Brazil vs Australia

So we took a look at where all the matches would be played, and thought right, well following a team is going to involve a lot of flying, and that was money we just didn’t want to be spending.  Instead we had a look and thought the venue specific packages would be the best way to go, even if this meant sacrificing watching Australia play (and if things go according to the book, this could be a blessing in disguise given the group we’re in).  The other big factor was the draw was only going to be released at the end of the year, and from what was being said, waiting until the end of the year to book accommodation and whatnot could prove to be quite stressful.  

Accommodation 

So Rio de Janeiro was our choice, that was the easy part, finding accommodation however? Not so much.

We looked at hostels, all of which were either booked already or charging $60+ a night, so we decided to try our luck with an apartment.  I spent about two months contacting literally more than 100 different hosts through airbnb, FlipKey, and any other similar sites I could find.  Slowly our options narrowed, with some hosts asking for about $500 a night for a pretty average looking apartment, and others looking a little bit too suspicious to go with.  Eventually, and I still don’t know how, I found the winner and a better place than we ever imagined (touch wood).  All up we’re spending under $50 a night, staying right near Ipanema beach with everything you would need in an apartment.

There’s four of us going and we decided to do the full stretch, staying for 35 nights, probably why we were able to negotiate so effectively when securing an apartment.

Tickets

We jumped in the ballot within the first few days of it opening, deciding to go with the Rio venue specific package.  Prices were a bit lower than anticipated which was a nice surprise, although the nerves of waiting to find out whether we got them was not such fun.  It turns out a lot of people like football, who knew?

Over a million people requested tickets in just the first few days, with Rio matches turning quickly from green to red for numbers of requests.  By the end of the ballot, 6.2 million tickets had been requested with a little over a million available at this stage.  Uh oh…

What would happen if after all this, we’d booked an apartment, booked flights, planned a whole year around this, and we couldn’t even get tickets to any matches?  We started thinking of backup plans, paying an extra $100 to fly to one of the closer cities for the day just to go see a match.

It came to the end of the lottery and I started checking my emails every hour, logging into my FIFA account to spot any little evidence of change until one day I woke up to a call from Dad, saying he was just told that some charge had come through on the credit card and the bank had blocked it.  WHAT?

Panicking, I called the bank (probably a few more times than needed), tried to call FIFA a few times only to be told they had no control over the allocation, and frantically started looking online for answers.  Turns out thousands of people experienced the exact same thing, and eventually FIFA issued a message saying that they would be putting the charge through a second time if it was blocked.  I got back on the phone with the bank (again a few more times than needed), and made sure they bloody didn’t block the charge again.

SUCCESS! The charge went through, and tickets we did get. Five World Cup matches in Rio? Yes please, thank you.

So that’ll do for the first installment of the World Cup blogging.

Are you heading to the World Cup? How has your planning been going so far? 

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