The Battle of Luxury Box Owners: FIFA vs. 60-Year Old Deal

The luxury box owners at Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium are gearing up for a battle with FIFA as the 2026 World Cup approaches. These owners have cited a 60-year-old deal that grants them unlimited access to their seats for 99 years. The tumultuous history of the purchase of the luxury boxes at Azteca has now created a conflict, according to luxury box owner Roberto Ruano, who is the spokesperson for an association of 134 box owners.

The Clash of Expectations

FIFA, on the other hand, has expressed its desire to have full control of the World Cup stadiums 30 days before the first match and seven days after the last. This clash of expectations between the luxury box owners and FIFA has brought the issue to the forefront as the stadium prepares to host matches for the prestigious World Cup.

The Foundation of the Conflict

To understand the root cause of the conflict, one must delve into the past. In the 1960s, Mexican businessman Emilio Azcárraga Milmo sold boxes at Azteca Stadium to private investors for 115,000 pesos, which was equivalent to about $9,000 at that time. This transaction gave the owners the right to use the boxes for 99 years, including access to football matches, concerts, and other events held at the stadium. The tradition of allowing luxury box owners to retain their seats during major events such as the 1970 and 1986 World Cups in Mexico has been a longstanding practice.

The Stakes for the Luxury Box Owners

The value of the luxury boxes at Azteca Stadium is undeniable, with the current asking price for a 20-square-meter box ranging from 15 million to 25 million pesos. Some owners even rent out their boxes for specific events, showcasing the significance of these exclusive spaces within the stadium. The owners have firmly stated that they have the right to be in their boxes during the World Cup, as they have already paid for this privilege when they purchased the title to the boxes.

The Standoff with FIFA

Despite FIFA’s insistence on having full control of the stadium during the World Cup, luxury box owner Roberto Ruano remains resolute in his stance. He firmly believes that FIFA should respect the deal that dates back to the stadium’s construction six decades ago. Ruano has expressed confidence that the issue will be resolved through discussions with stadium officials, although no concrete proposal has been presented yet.

While the clash of expectations between the luxury box owners and FIFA continues, there is a glimmer of hope for a resolution. Emilio Azcárraga Jean, the current owner of the stadium through multimedia company Televisa and the son of Emilio Azcárraga Milmo, has expressed optimism about reaching an agreement soon. He acknowledged the importance of selling the boxes to complete the stadium’s construction and emphasized the need to find a solution that is acceptable to all parties involved.

As the 2026 World Cup approaches, the fate of the luxury boxes at Azteca Stadium hangs in the balance. While some box owners have agreed to relinquish their seats for the tournament in exchange for upgrades and benefits, others like Roberto Ruano remain steadfast in their determination to retain their access. The outcome of this battle between tradition and modernity, between private ownership and FIFA control, will ultimately shape the legacy of the luxury boxes at Azteca Stadium for years to come.

FIFA World Cup

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