4 fans pay $112,600 to watch World Cup

The bill for visiting Brazil to catch the World Cup for a group of four Singaporeans came up to $51,600 - and that is not including airfare and accommodation.

Throw in the cost of air tickets and staying in Brazil for seven nights and their bill rockets to $112,600.

But it is money they are happy to spend.

For one of them, the tickets for the games are so precious that he keeps them in a safe.

The businessman, who wanted to be known only as Mr Singh, 56, and his three close friends bought hospitality packages for the competition from world football governing body Fifa in December 2011.

Mr Singh told The New Paper: "As soon as I was offered the opportunity, I decided immediately to go, and sent my money to Fifa straightaway."

Mr Singh and his friends shelled out $12,900 each to catch one semi-final game in Sao Paulo and the final in Rio de Janeiro.

They will fly business class with air tickets costing $13,000 each, and will stay in five-star hotels costing between $500 and $750 a night for each of the two rooms they have booked.

Why splurge so much?

"It is every man's dream," said Mr Singh as he took the prized tickets out from a safe to show them to this reporter.

He added: "I have worked all my life and this is my reward."

The diehard Manchester United fan has attended three Champions League finals featuring his beloved team and has made the pilgrimage to Old Trafford seven times.

He had also been to games at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups.

Another diehard fan, Hendric Tay, 26, a travel writer and freelance designer, got his ticket for about $170.

Mr Tay, who writes at pohtecktoes.com, said: "It's not every day that the World Cup returns to the football capital of the world. Besides, I have always wanted to visit South America."

He got his tickets through the official Fifa website as he did not want to risk being cheated in the black market.

There has been a great demand for tickets and trips for the World Cup, said Akbar Hashim, who organises trips for LionsXII away matches in Malaysia.

The 52-year-old said: "I received 15 to 20 calls in the last month asking if I could organise a World Cup travel package, but it is tough because of the shortage of time, and people wanting to catch different matches."

So those like Mr Singh could consider themselves the privileged few. And, no, there is no talking him into selling his tickets, not even for a handsome profit.

He said: "There are offers of up to $175,000 online for such tickets, but there's no way I'm selling them.

"The World Cup is not always held in Brazil and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

This article by The New Paper was published in MyPaper, a free, bilingual newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.

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