30 Years of World Cup Tickets: Final Match Entry Price Skyrocketed 650%

The ticket price for the 2018 World Cup is the highest in the tournament's history.

The ticket price for the 2018 World Cup is the highest in the tournament’s history. Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

If you are a soccer fan and happen to have $2,000 lying around, you may have a last-minute chance to snap a ticket for Sunday’s World Cup final match between France and Croatia on eBay. A soon-ending auction of two tickets for the Sunday game is steadily climbing toward the $4,000 mark, which is twice the tickets’ face value.

The hefty entry fee to this year’s final match in Russia is the highest in World Cup history. Fifty-six years ago, a ticket to see the World Cup final (Brazil vs Czechoslovakia 1962) was just $4. In more recent history—the past 28 years, or seven World Cup tournaments, for which ticket prices have been well documented—the price to see the final match has soared by a jarring 650 percent.

In comparison, the world average inflation over the same period is 90 percent, and the ticket price increase for the European Football Championship over that period was 300 percent.

FIFA sets four different prices for all matches ahead of the tournament depending on seat locations. Like pricing most seasonal products, FIFA takes into consideration economic fluctuations, findings from market researches and prices for previous World Cup tournaments, according to the organizer’s website.

In most years, the ticket price increase falls within a 10 to 20 percent range (although tickets for the final match may vary greatly on second-hand markets depending on who will play). But the 2002 tournament saw an unusual price hike.

World Cup final match price trend

Final match ticket prices since 1990. Source: FIFA (Note: Exact price range for the 1990 match wasn’t available. We used the data of 1994 for 1990 based on this news report comparing the two events’ overall ticket prices.) Katilyn Flannagan for Observer

The average ticket price for the 2002 World Cup in Japan and Korea almost tripled that of the previous event in France. The cheapest seat in the final match was six times more expensive than the 1998 final match, and the best seat was twice as expensive.

The steep price hike sparked a lot of criticism in the media at the time. Some fan groups called the pricing “appalling” and “completely out of reach of the ordinary fan.” The attendance of the 2002 World Cup was the lowest in 20 years.

FIFA argued that the price increase that year was due to the high cost of hosting the event in two countries for the first time.

Here are price ranges for the World Cup final match tickets since 1990:

1990 West Germany vs Argentina: $60 to $475

(The exact price range for the 1990 final match wasn’t available. We used the data of 1994 for 1990 based on a 1993 news article in the Los Angeles Times that said the 1994 prices were “in line with those from the 1990 World Cup.”)

1994 Brazil vs Italy: $60 to $475

1998 France vs Brazil:  $46 to $390

2002 Germany vs Brazil: $264 to $660

2006 Italy vs France:  $140 to $700

2010 Netherlands vs Spain: $150 to $900

2014 Germany vs Argentina: $440 to $990

2018 France vs Croatia: $455 to $1100

30 Years of World Cup Tickets: Final Match Entry Price Skyrocketed 650%