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The Samba World Cup Rolls On For Brazil

hat do Miami, Moscow, Melbourne and Milton Keynes have in common? What links Brasilia to Berlin and Beijing, or Rio to Riyadh?

They’ve all been stop-offs on football’s most lucrative money-spinning tour, designed to cash in on a history and heritage unsurpassed in the international game.

How can any self-respecting fan of the beautiful game resist the allure of those yellow shirts, those dazzling feet, the intoxicating rhythm of samba drums in the stands?

The Brazil Global Tour – or the Chevrolet Brazil Global Tour as we are supposed to call it – has come back to our shores this week and the appeal of the five-time World Cup winners remains as strong as ever.

Brazil play Uruguay at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium on Friday evening before taking on Cameroon at Stadium MK in Milton Keynes on Tuesday night.

Despite ticket prices starting at £25, both will see large attendances, Brazilian expats and locals alike drawn by the magnetic appeal of seeing Neymar and Co in the flesh.

Such was the demand in Milton Keynes, the upper tier of the stadium has been fully opened up to satisfy demand, a rarity indeed for a 30,000-capacity venue that hosts League Two football and average gates of just over 7,000.

Those entranced by watching Brazil perform at the World Cup during their youth were probably taken by the purity of the skilful football they played and the aura they had around them.

Today, that has been exploited to the max as part of a commercial marketing strategy that sells the ‘privilege’ of hosting those yellow shirts to the highest bidder.

Pitch International, the British company that secured the rights to market all of Brazil’s friendly games for a decade back in 2012, command up to $3million (£2.34m) per match.

And there are plenty of takers because Brazil maintain that mystique that ensures a sold-out stadium wherever in the world they are paid to rock up.

The games in England this week will be the 46th and 47th matches on the Global Tour since 2012. In that time, they have played on all six inhabited continents and in 18 countries right across the globe.

If enough Eskimos had a whip-round, Brazil would probably go and play in the Arctic Circle.

One place they never seem to play friendlies is in Brazil – just nine of these games have been played on home soil and two of those were immediately prior to the World Cup they hosted in 2014.

For the players, it is just something they have to accept. Given that most of them are based in the European leagues, this week’s games in England are relatively short-haul compared to their usual globe-trotting.

The Tour has taken them to Australia, Singapore, South Korea, China, Bolivia, the United States, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and a host of European nations. The squad hops on a plane and goes. No questions as money talks.