Lucky few San Franciscans head to the World Cup

With single tickets now selling for more than $1,000 a piece online, it’s safe to say World Cup fever has hit America. And now, a number of lucky San Franciscans are ready to hit the World Cup.

On Sunday, British-born San Franciscan Jeremy Lathen and some 15 friends will travel half way around the globe to Heidelberg, Germany, to watch the “Beautiful Game” as it was meant to be watched: live with the most rabid traveling soccer fans the world has to offer.

Lathen purchased tickets for the June 20 matchup of England and Sweden in Cologne, and for the June 19 matchup of Spain and Tunisia in Stuttgart. He paid $500 for one ticket to the former and $350 for a pair to the latter — bargain prices compared to the exorbitant amounts that are being thrown around by scalpers now.

“It was almost impossible to get tickets through the Web site. I scalped my tickets and they’re already going for more on EBay,” Lathen said. His group has been planning its trip to Germany for nearly a year and a half, booking a hotel a year in advance.

Lathen will stop in London before heading to Germany. Pubs in The Square Mile are known for their rowdy football fans, and — with England among a pool of teams with some semblance of hope to unseat overwhelming favorite and defending champion Brazil — the following should be every bit as fanatical there.

Inner Sunset resident Matt Albinson and his brother applied for tickets through the World Cup’s lottery system more than a year ago. They were among a lucky few to be awarded tickets to follow Team USA through group play and — if they make it — into the quarterfinal round. Even without having to scalp tickets and with long-term planning, Albinson is expecting to drop at least a couple thousand dollars on the trip.

Other Bay Area fans went about the process of throwing together a World Cup trip in a more impulsive, less planned-out manner.

“We paid a ton more than we should have, but we’re going,” said Mission resident Will Dobrin, who will travel to Germany with his girlfriend on Friday. “A few months ago we figured out a way to buy a package deal through an online travel agency and just threw down for it. It’s a ton of money, but how often do you get to do something like this?”

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