AP Interview: Brazil Sports Minister complained to FIFA about high World Cup ticket prices (Washington Post)

(Bebeto Matthews/ Associated Press ) – Aldo Rebelo, Brazil’s minister of sport, speaks during an interview Tuesday, June 4, 2013, in New York. Rebelo complained to FIFA about high prices contemplated for next year’s World Cup, and said soccer’s governing body will give 50,000 free tickets to poor communities and make half-price seats available to the elderly and students.

By Associated Press, Published: June 4

NEW YORK — Brazil’s Minister of Sport complained to FIFA about high prices contemplated for next year’s World Cup, and said soccer’s governing body will give 50,000 free tickets to poor communities and make half-price seats available to the elderly and students.

FIFA said last week it will announce prices on July 1 for the 2014 tournament and ticket sales will start Aug. 20. For the 2010 World Cup, prices were announced in November 2007 and sales started in February 2009.

Non-premium prices for the 2010 tournament in South Africa ranged from $70-$450 for the opener and $20-$160 for other first-round matches, and escalated to $150-$900 for the final.

During an interview Thursday at The Associated Press, Aldo Rebelo said prices for the tournament in Brazil, to be played from June 12-July 14, became an issue.

“I spoke with FIFA representatives, stating that this was unacceptable, that the prices were so high,” he said through a translator. “This is really a celebration of the people of Brazil. Soccer is very important for the whole population in Brazil. So I mentioned to FIFA representatives, how about that part of the population that cannot afford those expensive tickets?”

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook estimates Brazil’s per capita income at $12,000 last July 1, ranked 106th among nations. Qatar, the 2022 World Cup host, is first at $102,800 and the United States is 15th at $49,800.

“FIFA has donated 50,000 tickets to these poor communities and Indigenous communities,” Rebelo said. “And also we have 50 percent discount for the elderly population and for students.”

For the Confederations Cup, an eight-nation warm-up tournament this month, FIFA is making available half-price tickets to Brazilian residents who are either students, 60 or older by June 30 or in the Bolsa Família government assistance program.

Brazil is spending an estimated $3.5 billion on stadium construction and renovation for the World Cup, and Rio de Janeiro also is getting ready to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. Among the construction projects are new highways, avenues and mass transit.

“The infrastructure investments are really geared toward all communities. The investments were already planned for before or regardless of the World Cup and the Olympics,” Rebelo said. “The whole population will benefit from these improvements in infrastructure.”

Estadio Olímpico Joao Havelange, built in Rio for the 2007 Pan American Games, will host track and field during the 2016 Olympics. City councilmen introduced legislation last month to change the stadium name to Joao Saldanha, Brazil’s coach during qualifying for the 1970 World Cup, after a FIFA ethics report concluded Havelange accepted bribes in a World Cup kickback scandal in the 1990s. Havelange resigned as an IOC member in 2011 and quit this year as FIFA’s honorary president.

“Havelange was a name that was very important and very well received not only within soccer but within the sports industry as a whole,” Rebelo said. “After investigations, he no longer occupies any positions within FIFA or within the International Olympic Committee. However, the mistakes committed by Joao Havelange do not really delete any of the benefits that he brought either to FIFA or to the International Olympic Committee.”

Rebelo said the stadium construction for the World Cup — six venues will be new and the other six renovated — can’t be compared with the venues erected for World Cups in South Korea in 2002 or in South Africa, many of which are underutilized.

“In the ‘70s, Brazil built a lot of big stadiums and these stadiums were geared only toward soccer, nothing else. But these stadiums nowadays are completely different,” he said, predicting they will be used for “conferences, musical shows, restaurants, also trade shows.”

“This,” he said, “will allow the possibility for these stadiums to have some income, because these spaces will be rented for a high rate.”

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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