Consumer rap for Brazil cup prices
14 November 2013, 17:57
Rio de Janeiro - Consumer groups have slammed Rio club Flamengo over what they see as overcharging of fans looking to attend the Brazilian Cup final.
Flamengo will play Atletico Paranaense in a two-leg final - the first leg away on November 20 and the return at the refurbished Maracana stadium a week later.
But the club failed to show up as requested on Wednesday for a meeting with consumer group Procon, which is now demanding action as the most expensive tickets are selling for up to 800 reais ($350).
That is half as much again as a top category ticket for last season's Champions League final, the all-German Wembley showdown between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.
The most expensive Flamengo ticket will also be some three times more costly than a ticket to last June's Confederations Cup final, also held at the Maracana.
State consumer protection organisation Prrocon had Tuesday expressed surprise that the club had hiked entrance prices for the second leg showdown from the 100 to 280 reais it had applied for the semi-final.
Procon's Rio branch head Cidinha Campos, a Flamengo fan, dubbed the huge increases "incomprehensible" and "an abuse" of fan loyalty, saying she thought around 10 percent rises might be considered reasonable.
Flamengo say fans with season tickets can get in for about half price and that the average price will be reasonable even if top prices have gone through the roof.
Flamengo now face a rap for failing to respond to Procon's demands for a meeting, with Campos telling O Globo newspaper it was mulling a civil action.
"They (the club) think they can walk all over everybody -- but they cannot," Campos said.
Flamengo chairman Eduardo Bandeira de Mello insists the prices "are not abusive" and said the club was only doing what other companies, such as airlines, do -- hiking prices at times of maximum demand.
He accused Procon, in coming to the club offices to demand action, of behaving in a high-handed manner akin to the days of the military dictatorship of the mid 1960s to 1980s.
Rising prices have become a feature of Brazilian football in recent years.
In 2003, average entrance prices cost an average 9.5 reais ($4) but that had shot up to 38 reais by this season.
And for big games between traditional heavyweight clubs, the price can cost nearer 100 reais per person, a considerable expense in a country where the minimum wage is 678 reais a month.
League authorities said in August they were looking into the issue but had little power to act as newly-built stadiums were privately owned.
The country's national secretary for football affairs Toninho Nascimento said recently he was shocked to find himself having to fork out 400 reais for four tickets to a match and said the cost was "absurd".
With next June's World Cup looming, organisers have been at pains to stress that several hundred thousand tickets have been reserved for Brazil residents, who will be able to apply for tickets to most group games for as little as 60 reais ($27).
Foreign fans will typically pay more -- up to $990 for the final.