Monthly Archives: March 2010

Navigating the ticket maze: how we fared

We did our research.
Okay, we did our research and then some.  A portion of our party (read: Alyson) tends to be mildly obsessive in her over preparedness. 
We chose a two-week period during the tournament, which lasts an entire month, in which to request tickets. We elected for the middle two weeks of the tournament for a few reasons: with the understanding that obtaining tickets for the first match would be nearly impossible, wanting to be present for some of the Group Stage matches (the largest number of games is within the first round, as all 32 qualifying teams are playing games – increasing our odds for getting tickets) as well as with the goal of landing a few games in the first knockout stage, the Round of 16.
Another factor to consider was the number of cities/stadiums we would request tickets at.  South Africa is a relatively large country. Taking flights, or arranging other means of transportation, to games at a large variety of the 10 World Cup stadiums just didn’t make sense. Having the time and the resources to see a games in Cape Town and Durban and Pretoria would be ideal. Unfortunately, so much travel within the country just isn’t in the cards for this trip.
Our goal was to see as many games as possible.  In order to facilitate that, we elected to stay in Johannesburg for the duration of the trip.
Johannesburg, South Africa’s largest city, has two World Cup host stadiums within its limits: Ellis Park and Soccer City.  Two other World Cup stadiums are day trips from Johannesburg: Loftus Versfeld Stadium, situated in Tshwane/ Pretoria, and Rustenburg’s Royal Bafokeng Stadium.  We limited our ticket request to these four stadia. 
Lauren requested two tickets for eight different matches.  Alyson requested two tickets for eight matches. 
There were a few factors to take into consideration when determining which eight matches we would each request:

  • avoiding overlapping days – eliminating the conundrum of having to choose between two matches and eliminating the need to find a way to sell tickets upon our arrival.
  • avoiding overlapping games – eliminating the necessity of going into the ticket scalping business, should we be lucky enough to both win tickets. 
  • requesting tickets at a variety of price points – as nice as the Category 1 (described by FIFA as being located alongside the pitch.) tickets may be, justifying the price ($160/ticket in the group stage, $200/ticket in the Round of 16) for every match we planned to attend was a bit of a stretch.  That’s not to say that we didn’t splurge and request a handful of Category 1 tickets. We’re entitled American brats, damnit, and we deserve it.

When we ordered tickets, there might have been a spreadsheet.  And a schedule.  And a lot of highlighting.  And maybe some copious notes.  Perhaps a phone conference or two. 
Yes, tickets were requested using a classic display of Type A nerdom.  Thank you for asking.
And it worked.
Take that, haters!
FIFA held the first ticket lottery on April 15, 2009.
Following the ticket lottery, there were a few days of anxiety.  Obsessive email checking.  Logging in to FIFA’s website on an hourly basis. Frequent checks of credit ard statements.  (By Alyson, anyway.  Lauren generally has better things to do than be neurotic. Like play a lot of hockey.)
Eventually, FIFA released the ticket lottery results and Alyson could breathe again.
Alyson was successful for 4 of her 8 requests; Lauren won the right to purchase a pair of seats at 3 of the matches she requested.
Serendipitiously, our tickets fell into a neat 13-day timeframe.
And that is how the World Cup dream became a World Cup reality.
Non-refundable, non-sellable, show-your-passport-to-gain-entry-to-the-stadium reality.


The one where it is clear that I need to get a life

For the past four years, I’ve had the same wallpaper on my work computer.

I’ve moved offices, changed positions and killed at least three computers. But the wallpaper always stays the same.  I like consistency.  And I feel a special kinship to this wallpaper, in its psychedelic, World Cup, pink glory.

Nothing makes me happier than opening a document off of my happy, pink, World Cup 2006 desktop.  Well, except for not working.  That makes me happier.

But if I have to work, it should be from my Pretty Pink Fútbol Fanatic Wallpaper of Glory.

One look at it and I am transported back to the summer of 2006, when a television was within view from the confines of my desk and World Cup matches were always on. Oh, 2006, how magical you were.  I introduced the World Cup to my officemates. By the time the tournament progressed to the Round of 16, they were obsessed. We made a pool. We gathered around the television for highlights. We adopted a baby unicorn and named it Sir Zinedine Zidane.

If you don’t already think I’m insane, please let me spell it out for you: I have an emotional attachment to my desktop wallpaper.

Yesterday, friends, was A  Very Big Deal.

I changed my wallpaper. 

I think we can all agree: therapists around the world would applaud such a monumental change in my simple, simple life. 

It is time to embrace the newest fad, boys and girls.  It’s 2010. 

And pink is so over.

Alyson’s Advice: Navigating the Ticket Maze

The trick to planning a trip to the World Cup, is seems, is making a plan of attack and making a plan of attack early.  Very, very early. 
Let me state the obvious: if you want to go to the World Cup, you want to see a few games. In order to see games, you need to have tickets.
Scoring match tickets is the complicated, essential first step.
Due to the structure of ticket sales, you should consider committing to your trip 16 months in advance.  …unless you’re insane an adventurous soul who has no problem with jumping on a plane to a random city in a random country, trusting that you’ll be able to buy tickets when you’re there.
FIFA, the international governing body of soccer, is basically run by a sketchy gang of tricksters and thieves. Tickets are: nonrefundable, nontransferable and must be picked up in South Africa during the tournament.
Take that, scalpers!
And take that, anyone who has even the slightest doubt of their ability to attend the World Cup!
You’re stuck with what you buy. 
When tickets are first opened up for purchase, the World Cup schedule is very general.  Teams have not been drawn into their groups.  Buying tickets to a game between E1 and E3 means pretty much nothing. Unless you’re buying a team package (requesting all of the games that England, for example, is playing in), you’re requesting games based solely on the location and the date. 
Tickets are available in five phases.  The ticketing process changes ever-so-slightly as the phases progress. 
In round one, applicants enter a lottery.  Requests are permitted for up to eight matches.
In round two, a certain number of tickets are released on a first-come, first-served basis.  You still, however, have no idea what teams you’ll be watching.  
Round three is identical to round two: a random lottery.  Round three, however, opens up just after the draw.  If you’re applying for tickets in the group phases, you know exactly what teams you’re going to see (should you be lucky enough to score tickets).  If you’re applying tickets for the later rounds, you’re still not going to know what teams are playing, but you’ll have devoted hours of your life to studying each group and reading the analysis of the pundits to make an educated guess about teams will be there.  Don’t get too attached: sports are unpredictable. 
Tickets in round four and five are also sold on a first-come, first-served basis.
A few friendly suggestions from someone who has taken a ride on the World Cup ticket roller coaster: 
Read up. Know what you’re committing to before purchasing tickets. FIFA is forever changing the ticketing process. What is true for South Africa 2010 ticketing may not be true for Brazil 2014.
Determine what you want. Do you want to see a certain number of matches? Do you want to see games in certain cities? Do you absolutely need to see a certain team or a certain match?
Lastly, unless you’re a complete soccer snob, keep a bit of perspective. Every match will be enjoyable.

I don’t get out much

This trip, I anticipate, will be mildly fabulous.  Thus, counting down the days in my planner just wouldn’t cut it.

It would be like wearing a pair of sweats to prom.

After hitting the 100-day mark on Sunday, I’ve been especially excited.  While I haven’t been particularly productive in other areas of my life (see: laundry, going to the gym, paying bills, being a respectable member of society), my anticipatory giddiness has sparked a bit of creativity.

And how better to express a bit of unadulterated excitement than through arts and crafts?

This idea was so ridiculous that I just couldn’t help myself.  (If you continue to read this blog, you’ll come to find that this is a recurring theme in my everyday life.)

Paper countdown chains.  One for me, one for Lauren.

Did you ever make these in school?  In grade school, we put together paper chains in preparation of an event (field day, holiday break, the day our teacher went on maternity leave) and we’d tear off one link each day.

I can only think of one better way to track the days left until South Africa, and that would be a chocolate-a-day countdown calendar like the advent calendars Mom used to get us at Christmastime.  But I’m not much of a chocolatier.   

Thus, from some tape and colored paper and a complete lack of shame, the paper chain was born.

In case you’re keeping track: it has 97 links.

Evolution of a dream

We talked the talk.

June, 1998
The setting: Mom and Dad’s living room. 
Alyson: We should go to a World Cup.
Lauren: That would be cool.

June, 2002
The setting: Lauren – Mom and Dad’s living room.  Alyson – Camp Anawanna (PA). 
Lauren: I love the World Cup.
Alyson: I love the World Cup. I would love it more if I could actually watch it, instead of being a camp counselor in the middle of nowhere.
Lauren: That’s your own fault.
Alyson: True. But I still love it.
Lauren: We should go to one.
Alyson: Yep.

June, 2006
The setting: Mom and Dad’s living room. 
Alyson: We should go to the next World Cup.
Lauren: We should.
Alyson: I’m not kidding.  We really should.
Lauren: Let’s do it.
Alyson: We’re doing it.
Lauren: Done.

We’re walking the walk.

February, 2010: Submit World Cup ticket application.
March, 2010: Renew passports.
April, 2010: The credit card company calls.  To verify a hefty overseas charge from FIFA/World Cup.  High-pitched squealing, uncoordinated/joyful dancing ensues.   

Dream?  Realized.  We’re going to the World Cup.  In 100 days.