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World Cup exposes divide

AP

A survey published Sunday on the wealth and race of fans who attended a World Cup match in Brazil illustrated what any TV viewer in the nation has seen: Those attending games are overwhelmingly white and not from Brazil’s poor.

This is striking in Brazil, with its highly mixed population that has more blacks than any country with the exception of Nigeria. About 47 percent of Brazilians classified themselves as white in the 2010 census.

A Datafolha polling group survey published in the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper showed that at Saturday’s Brazil-Chile match, 67 percent of attendees classified themselves as white and 90 percent came from Brazil’s top two economic classes, which represent about 15 percent of the country’s population.

Similar trends have been seen at other World Cup matches, though no polls were carried out previously.

The Datafolha poll was based on interviews with 693 fans at the Mineirao stadium in Belo Horizonte and had a statistical margin of error of 4 percentage points.

“Sure, there are only whites in the stadium. It comes down to money,” said Ana Beatriz Ferreira, a 27-year-old parking attendant in Rio de Janeiro, who is black. “Nobody I know could find affordable tickets.”

Face-value prices for the Brazil versus Chile match officially ranged from $200 to $25 for Brazilians, the cheapest tickets making up roughly 5 percent of those sold. They were only available for students, senior citizens or poor people who participate in a government welfare program.

The prices are tough for ordinary Brazilians to afford. The minimum wage in the country is $330 a month, just about what Ferreira said she earns.

In an emailed statement, FIFA said that during group-stage matches, it sold a total of 143,364 of the cheapest tickets, which amounted to roughly 3,000 such tickets available per match.

Those quickly sold out, locking out the vast majority of fans in soccer-mad Brazil.

Marcos Carvalho, an 18-year-old Brazilian fan who was hanging out near the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia before Brazil played Cameroon earlier this week, said that he “didn’t even try getting tickets, they were too expensive.”

“There was no way we could afford them,” he said. “We’ll just watch the match at home, it’s all we can do. We are seeing everyone going to the stadium, everyone happy, but we won’t be going.”

Scolari not satisfied

Sao Paulo REUTERS

Brazil’s players have Sunday off after an exhausting win over Chile but they will be back at work early on Monday when coach Luiz Felipe Scolari will start preparing for the World Cup quarterfinal showdown against Colombia.

Brazil looked overawed and was fortunate to escape with a 3-2 penalty shootout win over Chile after the match finished 1-1 at the end of extra time.

“We will look at how we won and why we won and all the situations in which we did not complete passes or make chances so that we can improve the next match,” Scolari told reporters.

“In every match difficulties are escalating and we need to improve.”

The match was intense and exhilarating and Scolari said he would try to use the emotionally draining game to inspire his squad.

“When you win this way, with this level of emotion, you can turn it into a positive thing to show them it is down to their performance, and so we try to look for their best moments and value them,” he said.

Scolari was at the helm when Brazil won the trophy in 2002 but his current squad has little World Cup experience and he said that might have been telling against Chile.

“Even the most experienced players feel the pressure in the World Cup,” the former Chelsea and Portugal coach said.

“Everybody does, if you say you don’t you are lying. The emotions are different, it is not a normal match. As we have so many new players, they are gaining experience little by little.”

Brazil needs to work on scoring goals and shoring up its toothless midfield.

Although Hulk had a goal chalked off for handball, Chile controlled much of the second half and nearly sealed a famous win when Mauricio Pinilla struck the crossbar in the dying seconds.

“We gain experience as we go on,” Scolari added. “So let’s see if we can make less mistakes in the next matches. If we make errors we provide chances for the opponent and we might not be as lucky and we might concede a goal like we almost did today in the 118th minute. So let’s try and work on that.

“We scored, and then we conceded due to the error on the flank and that is not acceptable today at international level,” he said.

“And then we had three or four chances to score and we didn’t because we were trying to be too precise. So then you run more risks than at any other moment.”