The California Bucket List: Your daily guide to the best adventures and experiences in the Golden State

World Cup 2014: Soccer tours give fans a piece of the action up close

Soccer-themed bachelor parties, stadium tours and even cruises are all part of the World Cup fun

Do you dream about playing on a "real" soccer team? Or playing a match in a world-class fútbol stadium? It's possible on a soccer tour. Some trips are for individuals, others for teams or groups. Many can be customized to suit whatever soccer experience you desire. specializes in soccer-themed bachelor parties in more than 70 destinations in Britain and Europe. Celebrants can take a stadium tour, play a five-to-a-side game, get VIP tickets to a match or rent an entire stadium to play a match and get the full pro-soccer experience (minus the 50,000 cheering fans). Info:

Viator sells tickets to matches and guided or self-guided stadium tours in cities in Britain and around the world, including Buenos Aires; Rio de Janeiro; Mexico City; Melbourne, Australia; Lisbon; Barcelona, Spain; and Milan, Italy. Tours from $32. Info: It also has an app for finding last-minute tickets while on the road.

The Liverpool Football Club offers six tours of Anfield Stadium and museum. Its Ultimate Anfield Experience includes the "nostalgic tour" and a training session and dinner with former players. Info:

Not to be outdone by its rival, Manchester United has a museum and five behind-the-scenes stadium tours of Old Trafford. Info: From $25;

Football Aid, which raises funds for charities, schedules games at stadiums throughout Britain. The games are hosted by local teams, giving participants a chance to wear the jerseys of their favorites and play on their pitch. Info:

MSC Cruises is offering several soccer-celebration cruises, from Mediterranean and northern Europe ports, during FIFA World Cup. All the matches are scheduled to be broadcast live in public areas of the ships, but guests also will have shipboard "matches," such as a team table-soccer tournament, soccer-related quizzes and silly water games. Info: From $829 a person;

Italian Connection organizes soccer tickets as part of packages that can include flights, hotels, restaurant reservations and bus transfers. The company focuses on Italy but books worldwide. Info:

Real World Holidays specializes in tours to South America. Director Dan Clarke's favorite soccer event is the Clásico Paisa tournament between Independiente Medellín and Atlético Nacional in Medellín, Colombia. Clarke said players' skill levels are high, and the entire city gets into the fun. "Great soccer, great stadiums," he wrote in an email. Info:

Haka Educational Tours runs soccer trips in New Zealand for school and university groups. Students work on improving their soccer skills by playing against New Zealand teams with similar ages and abilities. They also experience some of the culture of the indigenous Maori people. Info: About $1,340;

Element Lifestyle books custom, high-end tours to fit whatever trip the soccer fan might want to create. Info:

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World