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Price Tag on Pre-World Cup Match Between Zimbabwe and Brazil Sparks Debate

Though the impending Brazilian team visit has generated much excitement, there are those who say the government shouldn't’t have spent money bringing the Samba Boys to Harare when there are so many other pressing needs.

The Brazilian national soccer team arrived in Harare late Tuesday on the eve of a high profile international friendly match against Zimbabwe's Warriors on Wednesday afternoon at National Sports Stadium.

Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi confirmed the arrival of the Samba Kings at Harare International Airport for a paid appearance against Zimbabwe's team which set the government and corporate sponsors back US$1.2 million.

Correspondent Michael Kariati reported on the excitement among fans ahead of the game.

Though the Brazilian team visit has generated great excitement among soccer fans, others say Harare should not have spent scarce funds to bring the squad to Harare when there are so many other pressing needs.

For a look at both sides of the debate, VOA Studio 7 reporter Marvellous Mhlanga-Nyahuye turned to Harare based lawyer and soccer fan Wellington Magaya and University of Zimbabwe political analyst John Makumbe.

Magaya said that while the country has economic challenges, the Brazilian team visit will deliver longer-term economic benefits. Makumbe countered that the game would produce only momentary excitement, not enduring value.

Economist Rejoice Ngwenya also questioned how much the Brazilian visit would benefit the country given the political stalemate in Harare and the indigenization program which has alienated many foreign investors. Political commentator Sabelo Gatsheni-Ndlovu said Zimbabwe can only draw tourists by putting a democratic government in power.

However, one visitor to the VOA Zimbabwe Service Web site backed the government decision, saying the match “is a lifetime experience, a privilege to us who can’t afford to go to South Africa to watch a single game."

The reader calling himself Crende the Magician added: "Seeing Brazil live will be the same as going south to watch the 2010 World Cup final. I will say to my kids: when it happened I was there. This is for the love of the game.”