Sunday 22 October 2017

World Cup crisis talks on security and soaring costs for fans

Workers stand near a crane that collapsed on the site of the Arena Sao Paulo stadium
Workers stand near a crane that collapsed on the site of the Arena Sao Paulo stadium

Henry Winter Rio de Janeiro

World Cup organisers will today attempt to allay fears about security and escalating accommodation and travel prices at next summer's tournament.

Representatives from Fifa and the Brazilian government will also gather in Costa do Sauipe to seek to tackle the many criticisms being levelled at the World Cup.

The event will be opened by Aldo Rebelo, the Brazilian sports minister, trying to set a positive tone for a huge few years in his country, also including the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

Although there has been a huge rush for tickets, the greater concerns are focused on travel, accommodation and security.

One of the main questions needing answering is the cost to supporters planning on travelling around such a vast country amid alarming signs of profiteering by hoteliers and airlines.

Fans will discover which of the 12 venues they must journey to, and find accommodation in, when the group-stage draw is made in Costa do Sauipe on Friday. More than 500,000 foreign supporters are likely to travel to Brazil, although the number could dip if fears over inflated prices continues.

Organisers have arranged for Vinicius Lummertz from the Ministry of Tourism and Guilherme Ramalho from the Civil Aviation authority to deal with widespread criticism that fans are being ripped off.

The Brazilian government has already turned down requests from overseas carriers to run domestic routes during the tournament, which kicks off on June 12 in Sao Paulo and climaxes in Rio on July 13.

England are basing themselves in Rio, where many of the fans will inevitably want to be because of the beaches and nightlife, but know they face long flights, particularly if drawn up the Amazon in Manaus.

The Brazilian government hopes to put on more flights, using local carriers, and that prices will fall.

The general consensus from concerned travel agents is that internal flights will average between £700-£800 (€845-€965). They also warn fans to expect problems trying to book low-cost Brazilian carriers with credit cards.

The national carrier TAM will have an air-pass for fans with a price of £250 a flight but the cheaper classes are being "switched off", in airline parlance, so fans can expect to pay more.

There could also be tension if fans' flights are delayed by private jets. The Associated Press reported that 11pc of visitors heading between games will do so via private jet, a 4pc increase on the 2010 World Cup.

BOOKINGS

The issue of hotel costs will also be raised. The Brazilian government is looking at prices. Roughly 75pc of hotels in game venues have signed up to the Fifa-approved MATCH, which tends to demand long-stay bookings.

The average cost for one of the good, if not the best, hotels in Rio is currently £1,500 a night.

What supporters also have to factor in is the traffic from airports like Rio's to the city centre and Copacabana, which can take more than an hour (and there are more issues with the Metro).

Security is also a major concern and Brazilian Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardozo will discuss the safety of supporters. Fifa security adviser Andre Pruis, the former Deputy Commissioner of the South Africa Police Service, will also give his views.(© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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