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Valcke: FIFA not making fast Brazil buck

Updated: 2014-03-15 08:06
By Agence France-Presse in Rio de Janeiro ( China Daily)

The World Cup may continue to attract public protests in Brazil, but FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke insisted on Thursday soccer's governing body does not have its hand in the host nation's pocket.

"FIFA is not using any public money; FIFA is not using any money from Brazil," Valcke said.

Brazil has seen months of protests against the cost of tournament with many citizens believing the estimated $11 billion spend has come at the expense of urgent investment in poor public services.

FIFA has itself been a regular target for protesters who believe the organization hopes to make a fast buck from the extravaganza.

But in a video on FIFA's website Valcke insisted the game's world body was injecting about $800 million into the staging costs.

"There will be a legacy, as was the case in Germany in 2006, for the country," he said.

"The country ... will add intrastructure and the potential to welcome a lot more tourists."

Valcke criticized Brazil last year, as did FIFA president Sepp Blatter, over the slow pace of construction work which has left three of 12 venues still not ready with just three months to go.

But he rejected any suggestion FIFA, which says the event will cost it about $1.3 billion including prize-money, was seeking to make money on Brazil's back.

"FIFA is not asking for any financial support from the Brazilian authorities. Whatever is spent by the cities, by the government, will remain within the country.

"It will not be taken away from the country by FIFA when we fly away from Brazil on the 14th of July after the final" but benefit inhabitants of the host cities, said Valcke.

Huge price hikes

Soccer fans heading to Rio for the World Cup will have to pay at least double the going rate for hotel accommodation despite government attempts to limit price-gouging during the tournament, a study found Thursday.

Globo's G1 news portal cited a study by the TripAdvisor travel website that rates in the swish Copacabana beachside district had been hiked by up to 229 percent.

The study says average hotel accommodation prices in the district will hit a wallet-busting 1543.99 reais ($650) per night on match days during the June 12-July 13 competition.

For Rio as a whole the nightly average will be 1,077 reais for rises topping 100 percent, making rooms even more expensive than Times Square in New York, according to estimates.

Rio will host seven matches - including the final.

"This is not good for the city as it underpins the idea that tourists are being exploited," G1 quoted Alfredo Lopes, chairman of the Rio Hoteliers Association, as saying.

"We recommend that hotels indicate on their sites the rack rate they used on December 31 and during Carnival (official peak periods) and also for the World Cup, said Lopes.

In January, government-backed consumer groups reached a deal with Brazilian hoteliers that prices should not exceed New Year and carnival tariffs, though that would only mean prices not rising above about $1,000 a night.

The TripAdvisor study also showed up huge price variations at Salvador de Bahia in Brazil's northeast of up to 212 percent above normal rates on match days while mark-ups for Belo Horizonte and Fortaleza also topped 100 percent.

Brazil expects about three million domestic tourists to criss-cross the giant nation during the World Cup along with 600,000 foreign tourists.

Despite a rise of about 168 percent in tourism-derived receipts over the past decade Brazil only receives about six million foreign visitors annually.

That compares with 80 million for top-ranked destination France.

(China Daily 03/15/2014 page15)