Costs of Watching the Beautiful Game

By Ryan Fenix

I am sure that I was not the only one surprised when Cedelf Tupas announced this via Twitter:

“Ticket prices for azkals home match on July 3. 3k, 2k for grandstand tickets. 200, 300 for bleachers – local org chairman bonnie ladrido”

The initial reaction, after the obligatory double take, was, “How on earth were the ticket prices determined?” Purely from a fan’s point of view, PhP 3,000 for an Azkals game would be very expensive. I am quite sure that the only ones who will be coughing up that kind of money are the die-hard Azkals fans, and most probably the most fanatical fan girls.

The rest of the masses will probably have to make do with the PhP 200 and PhP 300 ‘cattle class’ tickets. These, I would imagine, would be on a first-come, first-served basis, most probably without real seats and backrests.

Was the PFF overcompensating for the fact that the Panaad match against Mongolia was basically for free? The jibes of ‘mahal talaga ang airfare from Europe’ (airfare from Europe is very expensive) are inevitable. This is understandable, given the costs of putting this team together, most especially with the Filipino players who are based in Europe and other parts of the globe. Then there is the small matter of rehabilitating Rizal Memorial Stadium…

However, this kind of pricing could probably turn off the casual football fan, most especially here in Metro Manila, where people aren’t exactly sold on this football thing just yet. The home game against Sri Lanka is a massive, massive chance for football to reach out to these new fans.

There’s absolutely nothing like catching a football game live. Some people complain that football is a boring sport to watch, especially on TV. Well, wait ‘til you watch it with ten thousand other fanatics, live in a stadium. Then let’s talk.

One can argue that had the PFF charged PhP 1,000 for grandstand tickets in Panaad, for the Azkals game against Mongolia, few would’ve raised an eyebrow. After all, this was the first game on home soil for this generation of Azkals, who successfully reached the Final Four in last year’s Suzuki Cup. Futhermore, the Mongolia game was held at Bacolod, which, along with Iloilo, is one of the most football-mad provinces in the country.

Having missed the game in Panaad, I will no doubt pull out all stops to ensure I get myself a precious game ticket. I am just not sure newbie fans, who undoubtedly share my passion for the Azkals, will share my sentiment when it comes to grandstand tickets. Will they settle for the bleachers?

Looking at it, these ticket prices could be a microcosm of Philippine society. Think about it: Some upper class people (tickets), a lot of lower class people (tickets) and a total absence of the middle class (tickets).

Ultimately, the Azkals beating Sri Lanka and going through to Round Two will make whatever costs worthwhile. But for others, it may be a price too steep to pay for. Published in Pinoy Football