A Special Lottery: How I got World Cup Tickets

On July 9, I won the lottery. 

World Cup tickets are always in huge demand. The FIFA World Cup is the biggest sporting event in the world, happening once every four years for the world to watch. 

This year, it will be held in Qatar, the smallest country to ever host the tournament. For comparison, Qatar is slightly smaller than Connecticut. Space in the country is extremely tight, which makes lodging extremely hard to find. Hotels are sold out, cruise ships are being docked and used as hotels for the duration of the cup. New accommodations, a sewage system, and even some of the stadiums are still being built. Delays from the pandemic and supply chain shortages have left workers rushing to finish construction.

Some traveling fans are also opting to stay in neighboring countries, and take a plane or ferry ship to Qatar on matchday. Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Kuwait will all have daily shuttle flights to fly fans into the country. There are upwards of 1.7 million people going to the World Cup, in a place with a population of 2.8 million (2020).

FIFA designed a process to facilitate selling tickets to fans all over the world. In February, FIFA held a randomly selected ticket lottery. Fans were later informed about the outcome of their ticket request. Depending on the result, fans had around a month to purchase a ticket.

There were three possible outcomes: the chance to purchase all the tickets you requested, a chance to buy some of the tickets, or no chance to purchase any tickets. 

Immediately after the lottery there was a first come, first served ticket window for around a week, after which the window would close. A few weeks later, the lottery reopened and the whole process repeated. The second window closed August 16, and there’s one final last-minute sale scheduled closer to the World Cup start.

On July 9, We were told that we were guaranteed a spot at the World Cup. After the second lottery, we received an email from FIFA. We had the opportunity to buy some of the tickets we requested. FIFA gave us 15 days to pay for the tickets. We were only eligible for games during the first week of the World Cup (November 20-26), but I was guaranteed tickets for the game I really wanted: watching my home country, Brazil, open their tournament on November 24 against Serbia, in the brand new, 80 thousand seat Lusail Iconic Stadium. 

Going to a Brazil game is an honor for any Brazilian. That honor is multiplied when it is the World Cup, where Brazil is the most successful country in the history of the tournament. As someone who has been following the sport for almost all my life, there is no event more important that I could go to. 

The only other Brazil game I ever went to was a 2016 Copa America match against Haiti. That in itself was an honor, and it wasn’t even the biggest soccer event of the year. There is nothing more important for a soccer fan than the World Cup. The whole experience is to be cherished, from my excitement of when the tickets were confirmed, to the trip back home after the cup. It is an experience very few people can say they’ve had, and I could not be more excited for it. 

I will also be watching Senegal vs Netherlands on November 21 and attending the FIFA Fan Fest, a watch-party open for 40 thousand fans per game. 

I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to be there, and am excited to be able to witness the biggest sporting event in the world. Stay tuned for more on-location coverage from the Pirates Hook!

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