I had planned to write today about my attempts to get into Saturday’s Champions League final here in Lisbon, but two things distracted me from that: an email I received from FIFA, and the fact that I am essentially a 10 year old boy in a 36 year old’s body.
Firstly, I checked my inbox after lunch to find a message from the ‘FIFA Ticketing Centre.’
Once the excitement of wondering if they’d finally decided to let me buy the tickets I had spent two years trying to obtain wore off, (answer: no), two things caught my eye.
Firstly was the ‘Hungry? Thirsty?’ section of the email, which helpfully informed me that there would be food and drink at the stadium. Who’d have known?
Tacked on to the end of this ground-breaking news, however, was the following disclaimer:
“Please note that due to security measures you will not be permitted to enter the stadium with your own food and beverage.”
‘Security measures’?! Knowing that people won’t be bringing their own sandwiches and non-sponsor-based drinks to games will certainly help me to rest easy.
More significantly, though, was the paragraph titled ‘How To Pay’:
“In recognition of Visa’s sponsorship, the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ accepts only Visa-branded credit, debit, and pre-paid cards, along with cash (only Brazilian Reais), in all 2014 FWC stadiums and locations to pay for food and beverages, retail goods, services and to obtain cash at ATMs while attending the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™…”
In other words: if you don’t have a Visa card, and you want to buy something at a stadium or fan zone (or even get money out of a cash machine)- good luck! You’d better be carrying around a wad of cash, (which sounds like a fantastically safe thing to do in Brazil at the moment…when are the police going on strike again?)
I seem to remember Visa and FIFA pulling an even worse stunt before the 2006 World Cup, when they attempted to charge everyone who applied for tickets a €5 processing fee, whether they were successful or not, years before the games even began. I think this was eventually stopped when the EU deemed that it was actually illegal, but either way the entire process was extremely dubious under European law: it seems that with their new partner, Visa, FIFA have found a way around this.
Anyway, the rest of the afternoon was spent standing in a long line of adults (who I really hope have children,), to do some ‘Got…got…got…NEED!’ trading of my longest-standing addiction: Panini stickers.
With two weeks to go until the games even begin, I am already halfway to completing my collection, but spent a good half hour hanging around Rossio train station, (a gorgeous Neo-Manueline structure which used to be the heart of Lisbon), which the city’s card and sticker traders have made their home.
An hour later, with an aching wrist and an unwarranted feeling of it having been an afternoon well spent, I have all of my collection so far stuck into my album, waiting to be transported with me to Salvador de Bahia this Thursday.
Anyone also collecting, feel free to send me your list of ‘gots’ and ‘needs’. Or you can join me in the digital collection!…