Brazil downplays prize money at World Cup

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Brazil insists this World Cup is not about the money.

Prize money has always been a thorny issue for Brazil teams in the run-up to past tournaments, but current players and coaches are downplaying the issue.

"I have a particular view on this," coach Dunga said. "Everything has to be agreed ahead of time. If you agree before it begins, then there won't be any problems."

Dunga knows firsthand the difficulties the issue can raise. At the 1990 World Cup in Italy, he was one of the players who participated in a protest over the prize money negotiations. Some players attempted to cover the sponsors' logos on their jerseys in official photos.

Dunga's current assistant coach, former Brazil right back Jorginho, also took part in that protest, as did former goalkeeper Claudio Taffarel, one of the team's observers at this year's tournament.

"That was different," Dunga said. "We were a new group and the (confederation) president was just starting. After that World Cup, we never had any other problems."

The president of the Brazilian soccer federation at the time was Ricardo Teixeira, who remains in charge. He does not disclose prize money being offered to players and the rest of the delegation, saying only that it depends on the number of wins achieved by the team.

The prize money for winning this World Cup is expected to surpass the amount Brazil had available at the previous two tournaments. Brazil reportedly awarded each player about $250,000 for the title in 2002 in South Korea and Japan, and they would have won nearly $300,000 each if Brazil had won in 2006.

Brazil has more than 10 official sponsors, the most ever for the national team.

"It's always the same thing, but the players are not talking about that," Brazilian soccer spokesman Rodrigo Paiva said. "The prize will be announced to the players before the World Cup begins and that's it."

The prize money is unlikely to make a lot of difference to most players in this year's squad. Nearly all of them already have multimillion-dollar contracts with European clubs and are set financially.

"The players don't come here because of the money, we are not worried," Jorginho said. "These guys are already doing fine financially. We know the biggest happiness for them is to be playing in the World Cup."

Brazil has a tough road ahead in its quest to win a sixth world title. The team was drawn into Group G, along with North Korea, the Ivory Coast and Portugal. It will begin its campaign on June 15 against the Koreans before facing the Ivory Coast and then Portugal.