The timeless ticket -- but not for World Cup

Written by AFP | Rio De Janeiro | Updated: Jun 17 2014, 17:46pm hrs
Brazilian businessman Luis Meyer Blumberg owns the mother of all tickets: a lifetime pass to any event he chooses at Rio de Janeiro's iconic Maracana stadium.

All except the World Cup, that is.

His ticket may very well be stamped "special seat in perpetuity," but FIFA has pressed the pause button on his eternal access.

"For what this piece of plastic is worth today I could virtually have bought an apartment a few years ago. Just a shame it can't get me a World Cup seat," Blumberg told AFP.

The grey-haired, sporty Blumberg is among a select band -- including several family members -- who can normally attend as many matches as they want, as well as other events.

When the Maracana was first built between 1948 and 1950, finances were tight as the project neared completion, so the authorities assigned some 3,000 tickets "in perpetuity" to wealthy fans chipping in.

Blumberg, who is in his mid-50s, managed to buy one almost two decades ago to add to others held by family members.

"I had to look lively -- they don't come on the market very often. People who have them generally pass them down to their sons," said Blumberg, a loyal fan of Rio football giants Flamengo.

But the owner of four Dimona clothing stores in Rio will have to watch the World Cup on television.

FIFA took over his coveted seat to the Maracana stadium for the seven matches there, including the July 13 final.

- FIFA rules -

Blumberg estimated that his seat is worth about USD 40,000 -- a fortune in a country where the per capita income is USD 11,340, according to the World Bank.

Rio authorities paid "perpetual ticket" holders around USD 2,250 as compensation for losing their seats for the tournament.

"FIFA have bought the ticketing rights wholesale for the entire month of the tournament; they own the event," he said.