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MATCH may also reportedly be targeted by Brazil’s antitrust agency for potential violation of free competition rules. The Valor Economico newspaper has said that prosecutors have already asked the agency to investigate the company’s operations.

MATCH has vehemently defended itself, saying that “it is incorrect to suggest” that the hotels it signed a contract with in Brazil are overcharging.

“The rates secured by MATCH Services from its partner hotels and those it offers to its customers are in the vast majority of cases reasonable and compare well to rates available outside of the FIFA World Cup,” it said in a statement. “(Hotels are) acting in a fair and reasonable manner taking into account the market forces and the investment made by them.”

It added that higher prices were already expected in Brazil during a major event like the World Cup.

“These prices are dictated by the prices MATCH Services have been able to secure from the hotels,” it said. “They are not the product of an abuse of a dominant position held by MATCH Services, but rather the fact that the Brazilian hotel industry by tradition over many decades has enjoyed high yields per room night during major events, whether it is a major conference, Carnival, New Year or Formula 1 racing.”

The president of the Brazilian Association of the Hotel Industry downplayed the Embratur study, calling it opportunistic because nearly all of the rates had already been set a long time ago. Enrico Fermi said the prices were established when MATCH signed agreements with more than 800 hotels right after Brazil was picked as World Cup host in 2007.

FIFA told us that the prices here are acceptable and compatible with the international market,” Fermi told the AP in a telephone interview.

The average price of a room in Johannesburg for the 2010 final was $200, while in Berlin in 2006 it was $300, according to Embratur.

“To compare room rates in Sao Paulo and Rio for the 2014 FIFA World Cup to those that MATCH Services provided in Johannesburg for the 2010 FIFA World Cup does not make sense,” MATCH said in its statement. “All it would prove is that the difference is in line with the difference at any given time between the cost of accommodation in Rio or Sao Paulo and Johannesburg.”

Brazil ranks 33rd in the list of most expensive hotel rates in the world, according to Fermi.

The local World Cup organizing committee and Brazil’s sports ministry referred all requests for comment to Embratur. FIFA said only MATCH would comment.

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