FIFA urged to allow Brazilian food at cup

03 November 2012 09:49

FIFA is under pressure to allow sales of a native Brazilian sandwich in stadiums at the 2014 World Cup amid accusations that the governing body is bowing to corporate sponsors such as McDonald's.

The row centers on acaraje, an iconic black-eyed pea fritter from the northeastern state of Bahia, and a FIFA regulation that bars street vendors within a two-kilometer (1.2 mile) radius of World Cup venues.

A petition circulated by the Association of Bahian female acaraje vendors (ABAM) is demanding that FIFA guarantees space inside stadiums for its members.

Acaraje, a fritter which is split and stuffed with caramelized onions and shrimp, was declared a cultural heritage of Brazil in 2005.

ABAM and its supporters say the restrictions were imposed to protect the interests and hamburger sales of McDonald's, one of the World Cup's main sponsors, and argue that it would be outrageous to bar acaraje, particularly in the Fonte Nova stadium of the Bahian state capital Salvador.

"We want Bahian women vendors and acarajes at the 2014 World Cup," ABAM president Rita Santos said in a petition addressed to FIFA President Sepp Blatter.

It was also sent to Brazilian Sport Minister Aldo Rebelo and national team hero Ronaldo, a member of the World Cup's Local Organizing Committee (LOC).

The petition specifically urges Ronaldo, who won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002, to intervene on the issue and secure a conciliatory pledge from FIFA.

In a statement sent to AFP on Saturday, FIFA said it was important "the food and beverage offerings in the stadia at the 2014 FIFA World Cup incorporate a local Brazilian flavor," noting that it was in the process of appointing a food and beverage concessionaire to implement the event's food and beverage program.

"Once appointed we will together assess the possibilities of including local food choices for each host city, taking into account the requirements of the local people and the international audience," the statement said.

"The sale of acaraje in Salvador will be part of these discussions."

Source: AFP