DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters Life!) - As Brazil’s Samba Boys turned on the style to rout Tanzania 5-1 on Monday night in their final warm-up match before the World Cup, thousands of desperate football fans were kept away by high ticket prices.
Tanzania’s national football team, Taifa Stars, have not qualified for the World Cup and played Brazil just a day after being eliminated by Rwanda from qualifying for the African Nations Championships (CHAN).
There were plenty of empty seats in the 60,000 capacity stadium in Tanzania’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, as the South American powerhouse took on Africa’s football minnows, ranked 108th in the world.
“How do you expect ordinary Tanzanians to pay up to 200,000 Tanzania shillings ($144.5) to watch the match? This is totally unfair,” said Michael Urasa, a taxi driver, who said he could not afford to watch the match at the stadium.
“Only rich people can afford to pay such prices. We’re told the government paid $2.5 million to bring the Brazilians to Tanzania. Was it worth it?”
Premier seats for the match cost 200,000 Tanzania shillings, while the cheapest tickets sold for 30,000 Tanzania shillings ($21.68) in the east African country where more than half the population live on less than a dollar a day. The lowest-priced ticket for a seat at the World Cup is around $20.
The Tanzania Football Federation said ticket prices were high in order recover appearance fees paid to Brazil, one of the favorites to win the biggest trophy in football, which kicks off in Africa for the first time on Friday.
Officials would not say how much it cost to bring the Samba Boys to Tanzania, but said the football federation had to apply for overdraft facilities from a local bank to pay Brazil to play an exhibition match in Dar es Salaam.
Football fans who could afford to watch the match at the stadium said they were happy with the local team’s performance.
“Our boys lacked stamina and quick thinking, but it was a good performance overall against the best team in the world,” said Asha Bakari, a businesswoman.
Reporting by Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala, editing by David Lewis and Paul Casciato