Silk purse, São's ear: Brazilian players with the Confederations Cup

AIRFARES and hotel bills for six RTé staff sent to cover the low-profile Confederations Cup soccer tournament in South Africa cost close to €27,000.

The six employees – including commentator George Hamilton and former soccer players Kenny Cunningham and Trevor Steven – spent between 10 and 17 days in Africa covering the soccer tournament.

The cost of broadcast rights for the competition, which had never previously been shown on Irish television, has not been revealed by RTé. It said the fee paid for airing the tournament was "commercially sensitive" and RTÉ was in competition with other broadcasters.

But it said the cost of sending six staff to South Africa came to €26,377 over the course of three weeks.

The cost of flights was €6,377, with airfares for away producer Mark McKenna, commentator George Hamilton, commentator Peter Collins, co-commentator Kenny Cunningham, co-commentator Trevor Steven and reporter Justin Treacy coming in at around €1,050 each.

The cost of hotel accommodation for the six men was €10,053, with the cost of subsistence – meals and other routine expenses – coming in at €3,240.

Transport costs, mainly car hire and taxi fares, came to €6,685 according to Peter Feeney, RTé's freedom of information officer.

He said: "Justin Treacy was also in South Africa to cover the British and Irish Lions rugby tour of South Africa.

"He was sent as a producer for Television Sport for the opening round of the Confederations Cup and then transferred to news coverage of the Lions tour.

"Under normal circumstances, RTé would have sent a producer with the commentary team and News would have sent a reporter to the Lions tests. This was a conscious cost-saving exercise by the Television Sport group."