World Cup

Brazil worried about ticket prices

Amazonia Stadium is one of the arenas used to host the World Cup.
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Brazil's sports minister says football ticket prices are too high, and he's ask club and stadium officials what can be done about it.

New stadiums being built across the country - many for next year's World Cup - are driving up prices, providing amenities for the well-off that are beyond the reach of most.

After meeting with club officials, Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo told reporters Thursday he's worried about the ability of poorer people to attend matches.

''Our concern is with the economic viability of football and of Brazilian clubs,''' Rebelo said. ''And we worry about the economic future of stadiums and future stadiums, and about the access of fans, especially those with lower incomes.'''

The cheapest ticket at the Flamengo-Santos match in June which inaugurated Brasilia's new stadium was about $80, which Rebelo called exorbitant in a country where the minimum monthly salary is $340.

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The Brasilia stadium cost $590 million and has been heavily criticized because the capital does not have a team in Brazil's top two divisions.

Despite Brazil's image as a football crazy country, most league matches are poorly attended.

Brazil is preparing 12 new and renovated stadiums for next year's World Cup, at a cost estimated at $3.5 billion. The lavish spending on sports events -in a country with under-funded schools and hospitals - helped draw millions to street protests in June during the Confederations Cup, the warm-up event for next year's World Cup.

The least expensive seat for a friendly match four months ago between Brazil and England at Rio de Janeiro's newly renovated Maracana Stadium was about $45. That was 30 times more than the cheapest seat eight years ago at the historic stadium.

Rebelo was asked if public subsidies might be offered so poorer fans could attend matches.

He said it wasn't being considered, but left open the possibility that football matches might be treated as cultural events and could be eligible for state aid.

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