ERIC WEIL in BUENOS AIRES: Brazil has said it does not want Argentinian hooligans at the World Cup finals but they will probably be kept away anyway by the escalating prices of flights and accommodation.

Some 200 members of a group called ‘United Argentina Fans’ went to the last World Cup in South Africa with government help and caused some trouble. Some were deported and others not even allowed in. The latter even tried to sue the South African government.

Since then the group has diminished in size as gangs from some of the clubs have quit and they lack government support. Some members plan to go attend the World Cup but not as a group.

The least expensive venue for them cheapest will be Porto Alegre, the nearest venue to Buenos Aires and where Argentina play Nigeria.

Otherwise most fans here have come to the conclusion that, apart from Brazil’s unwelcome stance, the finals will be a most uncomfortable, tiring and costly event, a Cup for millionaires.

That prospect has been exacerbated by the Brazilians’ refusal to accept the ‘cluster’ system FIFA wanted so each team will play only one match in each venue in the first round group. This is serious stuff in such a big country.

Tourist priority

If the Brazilians wanted visitors to learn about the country, that is one thing, but it is not the way to organise a World Cup.

As for flights costs, it takes 45 minutes to fly from Rio to Sao Paulo but a round trip was selling here for $800 and longer flights to other cup venues will cost more. Some middle range hotels in Rio are charging $1500 dollars a night.

On top of that, airports are hardly in a condition to handle increased traffic yet (if ever) and delays appear inevitable. It seems almost less expensive and more reliable to fly to Brazilian venues out of neighbouring countries.

Not that the Brazilians are united in delight at what it is to come. A poll in 2009 showed 79pc were in favour of hosting the finals; a repeat poll last week recorded the popularity rating as having dropped to 52pc.