The cost of attending the World Cup final is up to 46% higher in Qatar than the previous tournament in Russia, fans discovered Wednesday as tickets went on sale.
The steep rise in the prices for the FIFA showpiece match since 2018 contrasts with the group stage — apart from the opening game — and round of 16 seeing a reduction in the cost of the cheapest tickets, which fans can apply for online.
The most expensive tickets on general sale for the Dec. 18 final at Lusail Stadium are 5,850 Qatari riyals ($1,607), up 46% from the $1,100 for the 2018 final won by France.
Category-two tickets are 3,650 Qatari riyals ($1,003), up 41% from $710 for the final four years ago. Category-three tickets — the cheapest available for international fans — are 2,200 Qatari riyals ($604), one-third more expensive than the $455 last time. The category-four final tickets for local residents soars from the equivalent of $110 in Russia to 750 Qatari riyals ($206).
The cheapest seats on general sale internationally to watch the host nation open the World Cup on Nov. 21 soar 37% to $302 (1,100 Qatari riyals) from $220 in Russia. There’s a rise of 13% for category-two tickets to $440 (1,600 Qatari riyals) from $390 and a similar jump from $550 in Russia to $618 (2,250 Qatari riyals) for the most expensive opening-game tickets.
For other matches in the group stage, Qatari residents can buy tickets for 40 Qatari riyals ($11) — the cheapest for locals since the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. The cheapest tickets on international sale are the lowest prices since the 2006 World Cup in Germany at 250 Qatari riyals ($69). Category-one tickets have risen marginally from $210 to $220 (800 Qatari riyals) while the category two will remain at $165.
The cheapest tickets in the round of 16 have dropped from $115 to $96, but they are rising in the other two categories from $185 to $206 and $245 to $275.
Supporters requesting to attend matches at the Middle East's first World Cup will only discover if they are successful based on a random draw at the conclusion of the first application phase which runs through Feb. 8.
The ticket process is beginning with only 13 of the 32 slots at the tournament filled and qualifying not concluding until the intercontinental playoffs in June. Applications in the first phase of ticket sales can be made on the FIFA website until Feb. 8 with fans notified if they have been successful in the random draw selection by March 8.
The draw for the tournament is scheduled for April 1 in Doha, the capital of the tiny oil-and-gas rich Persian Gulf nation.
As well as applying for tickets for individual games, fans can register to follow their team throughout and to watch four matches in four different stadiums.
FIFA aims to generate $500 million from hospitality rights and ticket sales from across the eight stadiums in Qatar which are within a 30-mile radius of Doha.
The launch of ticket sales will be the first gauge of interest in attending arguably the most controversial tournament since the World Cup was first staged in 1930.
Some fans could still be deterred from flying to the World Cup after a decade of criticism of Qatar’s treatment of the migrant workers, who are largely from southwest Asia and have been relied on to build up the infrastructure since winning the FIFA hosting rights in 2010.
Even if fans want to go, there is a shortage of accommodation with no hotels available to book yet having all been reserved by organizers.
The range of ticket prices in U.S. dollars for international fans, converted from Qatari riyals, compared to the cost in Russia in 2018:
Opening match: $618 ($550), $440 ($390), $302 ($220).
Other group-stage games: $220 ($210), $165 ($165), $69 ($105).
Last 16: $275 ($245), $206 ($185), $96 ($115).
Quarterfinals: $426 ($365), $288 ($255), $206 ($175).
Semifinals: $956 ($750), $659 ($480), $357 ($285).
Third place: $426 ($365), $302 ($255), $206 ($175).
Final: $1,607 ($1,100), $1,003 ($710), $604 ($455).
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Rob Harris is at https://www.twitter.com/RobHarris