One of the most popular international events in the world, the World Cup continuously captures the hearts (and TV screens) of millions across the globe – whether you’re a die-hard football fan, or not.
First held in Uruguay in 1930, it’s come a long way over the years: initially just 13 countries taking part, with many European countries bowing out because of the distance; 2022’s World Cup held in Qatar will see 32 countries competing, with 3.08 million tickets expected to be sold.
With many people travelling to Doha to watch the matches, we wanted to see just how much it would have cost to travel to each host country over the years – especially with commercial travel increasing in popularity over the 1960s and ‘70s.
So, we looked at how much a one-way plane ticket would have cost from both London and New York to the host city today, as well as the cost of a ticket to the final, and then predicted how much they would have cost the year each World Cup took place, based on inflation rates.
Madrid’s World Cup is the cheapest to attend if you’re from London
If you’re travelling from the UK, then going to the 1982 World Cup in Madrid will cost you the least amount of money. Flight prices are the second cheapest, with a one-way ticket costing you the equivalent of £8.87 in 1982 based on inflation data, and a ticket to the final match costing £4.04, which, in today’s money, would cost you a total of just £53.85 in total.
Not far behind in costs is the 1966 World Cup held in London, with no flights required. The cost for the final game would have been expected to cost you £3.22, which, with today’s inflation rate, would total £70.89. Mexico’s World Cup comes in third place, jumping up in price to £279.17 in 2022. The 94.53% lower inflation rate in 1970 means that flights would have cost around £13.77, and the final match at £1.50.
The most expensive World Cup cities to attend from London are Japan and South Korea in 2022, with a flight costing £284.02, and a match ticket costing £411.18, totalling £1,336.62 today. Brazil and South Africa come in as the second and third most expensive countries, at £1,246.01 and £1,016.07 respectively.
Mexico City is the cheapest to attend from New York
Looking at the USA, the World Cups in Madrid and London cost a lot more due to distance. However, what’s interesting is that attending the World Cup in both of these cities is still cheaper than attending the 1994 World Cup held in California!
Flights to Spain and England cost significantly less, despite inflation; whereas a flight to California from New York was expected to cost $139.23 in 1994, and a ticket for the final costing $267.50, which, in today’s money, would cost $814.58.
The cheapest World Cup destination to attend is Mexico City, which hosted the event in 1970 and 1986. The cost of a flight and final ticket cost around $25.54 in 1970, and $133.02 in 1986, which is the equivalent of $195.37 and $360.23 in 2022.
Much like the UK, Japan and South Korea’s World Cup would cost the most, at $2,189.53 in today’s money, with South Africa and Brazil not far behind, at $2,162.75 and $1,574.99 respectively.
Attendance has more than doubled between the 1960s and the 1990s
With commercial travel becoming more accessible from the 1960s onwards, it meant more people were able to travel to watch the World Cup in real life; and for those that couldn’t travel, it was televised for the first time in 1966, opening it up to a huge audience unlike ever before.
The 1966 World Cup, which was held in England, had 1,614,677 people in attendance, which more than doubled at the 1994 World Cup in the USA; with a total attendance of 3,568,567, and an average game attendance of 68,626. Numbers have now evened out, with 3.08 million tickets expected to be sold at this year’s event, and a whopping five billion people predicted to watch it on TV – beating the last World Cup by one whole billion.
So, whether you’ve now been inspired to book flights to Doha so you can watch the World Cup in real life, or you’ve now got the travel bug and want to embark on an overseas holiday, one thing to remember before you go is to sort out your airport parking. We sell parking at more than 1,200 car parks across 200 airports, and we can also help you out with airport transfers at the other end, to get your holiday off to a smooth start.
The UK data is based on overall CPI inflations, as historical airfare inflation data isn’t available. The US data is based on CPI airfare inflations specifically.