Brazil investigates possible FIFA hotel cartel

It’s been a couple of days since Brazil ‘s last row with FIFA, so today’s bust-up between the 2014 World Cup hosts and football’s governing body is long overdue.

The Brazil government is to investigate whether FIFA’s official accommodation agency was involved in “cartel” practices that could lead to hotel price hikes during the 2014 World Cup.

The government announced on Thursday that a committee recently created to monitor excessive price rises during the World Cup will check whether the actions by MATCH Services “can be characterized as cartel.”

Government officials said they also will meet with the airline industry next week to make sure there are no excessive rises in travel prices during next year’s tournament.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff created the monitoring committee following complaints by consumer advocates and amid reports of  price increases during the World Cup. A study by Brazil’s tourism board earlier this year showed that some hotel rates will be up to 500 percent more expensive during the tournament in some hotels offered by the FIFA-appointed agency.

The government wants to know how many rooms MATCH has reserved in the host cities because, according to Brazilian legislation, anything more than 20 percent of the local market can be considered a cartel.

“We want to make sure that the prices will be fair and won’t be abusive to the Brazilian and the international consumers,” said Gleisi Hoffmann, Rousseff’s chief of staff.

MATCH and FIFA did not immediately answer a request for comment, but, in the spirit of Lord Astor they have previously denied all accusations of wrongdoing.

Incidentally, if you’re currently employed, you could do worse than head for Brazil to seek work on their committee to monitor rip-offs during World Cup year. They are not going to be short of work throughout 2014.