Brazil to give free tickets to the poor at World Cup and Olympics

 

The Brazilian government will hand out free tickets to the country's poor and indigenous people for the 2014 World Cup finals and expect to do the same for the 2016 Rio Olympics. The host nation has already won concessions from Fifa over allowing students and pensioners half-price tickets but is determined to take that a step further.

"I'm not going to expect [Fifa to support the proposal], I'm going to make it happen," Aldo Rebelo, Brazil's minister of sport, said yesterday. "This is extremely important, I am a man of the Communist Party. I cannot help organise the largest football party in the world without being concerned with the people who are poor and indigenous in my country."

Tickets for the finals, the first in Brazil since 1950, go on sale next year with Fifa still to determine the pricing, and the governing body has maintained a steadfast hold on ticket prices. Two years ago in South Africa – where half the population is below the poverty line compared to a quarter of Brazilians – it introduced cut-price £13 tickets to try to make the finals more accessible but ended up losing money on ticket sales. Up to 10 per cent of the three million tickets for the 2014 finals will be available to Brazilians at half price.

"We not only want cheaper tickets we want free tickets as well," Rebelo told The Independent yesterday. "We are going to have free tickets for a representation of the indigenous populations and also for those that receive benefit. These people cannot afford to pay anything and it would be bad for Fifa and Brazil to hold a World Cup with all the very poor people absent."

Rebelo also suggested ticket prices for foreign supporters will be cheaper than previous World Cups to offset the amount and cost of travelling involved. He meets Sepp Blatter and other senior Fifa figures in Zurich today but it has been a troubled relationship as Fifa have been critical of Brazil's preparations. Earlier this year Jerome Valcke angered the hosts by suggesting they "needed a kick up the backside".

"[Relations with Fifa] are stable," insisted Rebelo, even though half the stadia are less than 50 per cent complete. "Fifa is a private organisation, its focus is on private interests and the interests of their sponsors. The Brazilian government is concerned with the public interest and the national interest and is not going to relinquish [that]. Where the public interest does not coincide with the interests of Fifa what will prevail is the public interest."

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