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Obese Soccer Fans Get Wide Seat at 2014 Soccer World Cup

To qualify for one of the special wide seats, supporters 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. Photographer: Tariq Panja/Bloomberg
To qualify for one of the special wide seats, supporters 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. Photographer: Tariq Panja/Bloomberg

Feb. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Soccer fans who can prove they’re obese can have access to special wide seats at soccer’s 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.

To qualify for a ticket, supporters 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.”

Brazilian residents who are classified as obese are also entitled to a 50 percent discount on tickets to the event, which runs from June 12 to July 13. They are among a group including students, people over 60, disabled and recipients of low-income grants. There about 3 million tickets available for the World Cup, and according to Brazilian law, about 1 percent must be made available for people with special needs.

Nearly half of Brazil’s population is overweight, according to a study by Brazil’s government. It also found the percentage of obese people in the country rose to 16 percent in 2011 from 11 percent in 2006.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tariq Panja in Rio de Janeiro at tpanja@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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