The 2014 Soccer World Cup may take place in the soccer-crazed nation of Brazil, but it may end up going down in history as one of the most controversial editions of the tournament. Delays in the construction of stadiums, worries about safety, and even mass demonstrations against the expensive competition have had the country on the edge of its seat for the past few months. In a new chapter of the saga, the Brazilian government has advised that the prices of hotel rooms for the days of the competition could spike enormously.
The Brazilian Tourism Ministry issued a report on Monday asking the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) and the board of the Fórum de Operadores Hoteleiros do Brasil (Brazilian Hotel Owners Association) to make an effort to avoid a “stratospheric spike in prices” for the World Cup, reported news outlet El Economista Brasil.
The measure reflects the fear that Brazil may actually be harmed from hosting the World Cup. The ministry revealed last week that prices for hotels during the World Cup in June and July next year had spiked between 100 and 300 percent from normal levels, in all cities hosting games for the World Cup. In Salvador, the price increase reached 583 percent.
Match, the Swiss company hired by FIFA to handle bookings for accommodation during the World Cup, argues that it is not its responsibility to regulate prices.
Enrico Ferni, president of the Brazilian association of hotel operators, said that the agreement on the cost of services was signed in 2007 with the government’s approval. “Business owners will comply with the agreement, we are not going to rip the contracts just because the government thinks now that they are too expensive,” he said.
“I do not understand this attitude from the ministry. It looks like it wants to discredit the hotel industry,” he added.
The spike in prices is not the only issue the government has been fighting in the last weeks. The ministry has asked for an investigation of Match, which has been accused of selling tourist packages without the government’s approval.
The government has pointed out that Match is including accommodation in its packages — which according to the government’s requirements, should only include tickets to games — and flights.