The Rio Report

Obese fans to be treated to half-price tickets, special big seats at World Cup

Twitter: @tariqpanja (Bloomberg)

'Regular' football fans often feel as though they are treated shabbily in comparison to others - say, the 'prawn sandwich brigade'.

But now it is not just corporate suits who will be benefiting from considerably plusher treatment than the other bog-standard supporters.

The reason is that fans who can prove that they are obese can have access to special wide seats at the World Cup when it’s staged in Brazil later this year.

The seats, which are about double the width of regular chairs, are available in all 12 cities to confirm with Brazilian regulations.

Above is an extra-wide seat at Rio de Janeiro's Maracana Stadium, from where Bloomberg News sports reporter Tariq Panja posted pictures on his Twitter account.

Supporters who are considered obese will be entitled to a 50 per cent discount on match tickets as well as their special treatment with seating and location.

Fans from around the world can apply for 'obese' status but must submit a medical certificate to prove they have a body mass index of 30 or more, as recognized by the Brazilian Ministry of Health and World Health Organization.

"FIFA always respects local legislation and regulations and as such included obese people within the category of people with special needs," World Cup organizers said in an e-mailed statement.

"All obese customers will have the right to use a specific seat and will be offered the opportunity to request a complimentary ticket for one accompanying person."

They are among a group including students, people over 60, disabled and recipients of low-income grants who qualify for the half-price discount on tickets for the much-anticipated event.

A study by Brazil's government reported that nearly half the population is overweight. It also found the percentage of obese people in the country rose to 16 per cent in 2011 from 11 per cent in 2006.

So now 'regular' football fans have yet another reason to feel aggrieved. Still there is something they can do about it.