SAO PAULO - Less than half of Brazilians favor the nation's hosting of the World Cup in June, with a majority in the soccer-crazed nation believing that the tournament will do more harm than good, a poll showed on Tuesday.
Just 48 percent of Brazilians support hosting the event, down from 52 percent in February and dropping below 50 percent for the first time, a survey by Datafolha found, though the company said the difference was within its margin of error.
The approval rate has dropped from a high of 79 percent in November 2008, a year after Brazil was selected, amid cost overruns, deadly construction accidents and concern that delays in building stadiums and airports in 12 cities could embarrass the country on the international stage.
Indeed, the number of Brazilians opposed to hosting the 32-nation event is also rising, with 41 percent against it now, up from 38 percent in February and 10 percent in 2008, the survey by the local pollster showed.
The result is surprising for the soccer-loving nation that has won five World Cup titles, more than any other country. Brazil last hosted the tournament in 1950.
The event poses an increasing risk to President Dilma Rousseff, who is widely expected to be reelected in the general elections in October, as she may see support slump if the World Cup is not a success. She routinely assures Brazilians the tournament will be "the cup of cups."
Datafolha said 55 percent of those surveyed believe the games will bring more harm than benefit to the country, compared to 36 percent who believe the event will bring more benefit.
In a similar survey in June, in the midst of massive street protests calling for better transportation and less corruption, 44 percent said the games would bring more harm than benefit.
Pessimism over the World Cup has increased even as Brazilians have largely abandoned street protests.
The Confederations Cup last year was held at the tail end of the largest social unrest in a decade and the government and police have promised to crack down on demonstrators during this year's games.
The survey of 2,637 people was conducted between April 2 and 3 in 162 municipalities and has a margin of error of 2 percentage points in either direction.
Another poll, conducted by Brazil's MDA in February, found that most Brazilians opposed hosting the World Cup and believed the billions of dollars spent on the event should be directed elsewhere, such as towards healthcare and education.
(Reporting by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Bernadette Baum)