World Cup 2014: Brazil's poorest kids must see tournament, says Gianluca Vialli

Former Chelsea and Italy striker Gianluca Vialli has called on football fans to dig deep into their pockets and help send some of Brazil's poorest children to World Cup matches.

Vialli is backing From Favela to Maracana, an online crowdfunding campaign launched this weekend which aims to raise funds to buy tickets for children living in the country's favelas.

Vialli said: "This World Cup will be an incredible tournament but it would be a great pity if these children who are often the most passionate about football, did not get to experience it. Brazil is a marvellous country but it has a lot of social problems, and children are often the most affected. This is our chance to do something."

The campaign is being organised by Tifosy, a new online crowd funding platform which gives football fans the opportunity to donate to different football initiatives.

Organisers of the last World Cup in South Africa were criticised for the lack of children from the townships in the grounds because of high ticket prices. Discounted tickets were available but only for group matches involving the home nation.

Of the 3.3 million tickets on sale to fans this year', Fifa has set aside 300,000 at a discounted rate for Brazilian pensioners, students and those on social security at prices starting at £10 for group matches. Just over 200,000 of these tickets were sold.

Vialli added: "I don't want to see a repeat of what happened in South Africa. Even £10 is a lot of money for these favela children. I am being realistic about this campaign, I know that going to a World Cup match will not deal with the deeper problems but if we can help them go to a game, then why not?"

Organisers have set an initial target of £15,000 to buy tickets for 15 favela children from Rio de Janiero, who play for Favela Street, a girls football initiative, for a second round group match which could involve England.

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