For Brazil, World Cup success fuels hope for more tourists at Rio Olympics

August 22, 2014

Mimi Whitefield – Miami Herald, 8/21/2014

During the World Cup, more than 1 million international visitors flocked to Brazil — far exceeding pre-tournament expectations.

That wasn’t the only thing topsy-turvy about the world’s biggest sporting event. The Brazilian soccer team was a pre-Cup favorite and many expected Brazil would flub at organizing the June 15-July 15 event. Instead, Brazil was routed in the semifinals and got high marks for its hosting efforts.

Now it hopes to take some of the lessons it learned from organizing a successful World Cup as it barrels full-speed ahead in preparing for its next mega sporting event: the 2016 Rio Olympics.

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Brazilian national team brings in 13 new players after disastrous World Cup

August 20, 2014

Nick Schwartz – USA Today Sports, 8/19/2014

Although the host country managed to finish fourth, the World Cup was an unmitigated disaster for the Brazilian national team. After an embarrassing 7-1 loss to Germany 7-1 in the semifinal after a crucial injury to Neymar, the Brazilians bowed out with a lifeless 3-0 loss to The Netherlands in the third-place game. Manager Luiz Felipe Scolari resigned, and it was clear that changes to the squad were needed.

1994 World Cup winner Dunga took over as manager for the second time in his career — he managed Brazil from late 2006 to 2010, when he was fired after the World Cup in South Africa — and he announced a complete overhaul to the team Tuesday. Brazil will come to the United States in September for friendlies against Colombia and Ecuador, but just 10 players remain from the 23 that played in this summer’s World Cup.

Neymar, Oscar, David Luiz, Hulk, Ramires, Willian, Fernandinho, Luiz Gustavo, Maicon and Jefferson remain.

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After World Cup, Brazil’s refugees host their own games

August 11, 2014

Jill Langlois – Fortune, 8/11/2014

The first ever Refugees World Cup took place in early August, with 200 people representing 16 countries.

Jean Katumba is sitting at a school-style chair and fold-down desk. As he leans back in his seat, he chats with the 10 or so other people who have formed a circle in the middle of a plain white room at the offices of Caritas, an organization in São Paulo that helps refugees upon their arrival in Brazil. There is a low hum of voices and sporadic laughter as the group waits for the meeting to start.

Caritas is always teeming with people who need help with things like documentation, housing, and employment, but today’s meeting has nothing to do with the necessities. This small group of refugees has gathered to discuss the organization of the first ever Refugees World Cup.

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Asset Freeze Means Top Brazilian Soccer Team Unable to Pay Wages

August 7, 2014

Tariz Panja – Bloomberg, 8/6/2014

Botafogo, one of Brazilian soccer’s most storied clubs, is in crisis, unable to pay its players after debts totaling more than 700 million reais ($307 million) led authorities to freeze its accounts.

The Rio de Janeiro-based team, whose black and white shirts were made famous by the likes of World Cup winner Garrincha and most recently Dutch midfielder Clarence Seedorf, hasn’t paid some players in more than three months. The team had tax debt of 127 million reais last season, according to its accounts, and former players are owed millions in pension contributions, a club official said.

“We have 100 percent of our resources blocked,” team spokesman Bernardo Peirao said yesterday in a telephone interview. “We don’t have money to pay the players and the employees.”

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Rio 2016 Head Says Olympics Won’t Repeat World Cup Pains

August 5, 2014

Tariq Panja – Bloomberg, 8/4/2014

After delays and cost overruns marred the buildup to the soccer World Cup in Brazil, the head of the country’s effort to host the 2016 Summer Olympics says the goal is to show a different image to the world.

Brazil hosted the month-long World Cup without any major hitches, with spectators packing stadiums to watch a tournament that featured high-scoring games and drama all the way to Germany’s 1-0 win against Argentina in the championship match at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium on July 13. What preceded the event was far less smooth, however.

Almost every one of the 12 stadiums being used for the $11 billion tournament ended up being over budget and missed deadlines for completion, including the Sao Paulo Arena that was still being painted on the day it hosted the tournament opener on June 12. That embarrassed Brazil and raised fears about what kind of event athletes and visitors will witness when Rio hosts the Olympics in exactly two years.

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Brazil Make Progress With Preparations

August 5, 2014

Morning Star, 8/5/2014

Rio 2016 organisers admit they cannot afford to indulge in the luxury of leaving preparations for the Olympics and Paralympics to the last minute.

Two years before the Games, which start on August 5 2016, Rio 2016 communications director Mario Andrada said the preparations are now back on schedule after numerous delays.

Senior IOC figures have declared Rio as further behind than even Athens was at a similar stage before the 2016 Olympics but Andrada says there has been a well-timed wake-up call earlier this year.

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Brazil has a capacity to do the unexpected

August 1, 2014

Brazil Institute Director Paulo Sotero will be taking part in the prestigious Chautauqua Institution’s lecture series this week, entitled, “Brazil: Rising Superpower.”

Following is the piece he authored on Brazil in a global context which will be the basis of his lecture on Friday, August 1.

Paulo Sotero – The Chautauquan Daily, 7/31/2014

Not a country for beginners, as composer Antônio Carlos Jobim famously said, Brazil often does what is least expected. It did the unexpected in the World Cup — twice. First, by losing the soccer tournament it was overwhelmingly favored to win at home, and secondly hosting an excellent event, free of the logistical nightmares that were predicted by some and feared by most. It could do it again in the October presidential contest and frustrate the re-election plans of President Dilma Rousseff, who until recently was seen as heavily favored to renew her mandate for four more years.

Here is another surprise: The embarrassing World Cup performance of Brazil’s beloved Seleção and Rousseff’s electoral troubles are unrelated. A Datafolha opinion poll released last week showed that the sour national mood detected by a Pew Research Center survey before the event returned as soon as the games ended. With the economy stagnating and Brazilians increasingly worried about rising inflation and other adverse economic news, 54 percent now say the World Cup brought more costs than benefits to the country, down 8 points since July 1 despite the overall perception that the tournament was a success. Read the rest of this entry »


A Critical Mass Tragedy Sparks a Bicycle Boom in Brazil

July 30, 2014

Greg Scruggs – Next City, 7/30/2014

Like bike riders the world over, cyclists in Porto Alegre know that the last Friday of every month is Critical Mass. But in February 2011, the rolling circus protesting for the right to ride in peace turned tragic when an irate driver crashed into the crowd. Thirty people were injured, many severely, in an event that shook the cycling community to its core.

Lívia Araújo, a journalist, was riding with the group, but escaped unscathed. “I thought I would stop riding because of the shock. We thought everyone would give up, especially people just learning to ride,” she says. Instead, the opposite happened. At a solidarity Critical Mass ride four days later, nearly 2,000 people showed up in support. “So many that I had to walk my bike,” she recalls. “It was a defining event because it forced people to confront the fact that our traffic is really violent. Over 40,000 Brazilians die on the roads every year.” Indeed, the headline-grabbing incident galvanized the local cycling community and city government alike, generating a vibrant bike culture and concrete steps toward a more bike-friendly Porto Alegre.

I met with Araújo inside Vulp Bici Café, a cozy spot she calls “an extension of my living room.” Tássia Furtado, who opened Vulp with two other women in their twenties and early thirties just over a year ago, explains the rationale. “We always met up to ride and then went to a bar to drink, trading tools and parts at a sidewalk table. But it gets cold here in the winter, so we needed a place indoors to drink and work on our bikes.”

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Brazil want Neymar to play at 2016 Olympics in Rio

July 28, 2014

Joe Prince-Wright – Pro Soccer Talk, 7/28/2014

Brazilian superstar Neymar had his World Cup cut short by injury this summer, but he may get another chance to represent his nation on home soil sooner than anyone thought.

According to a report from Brazil on Monday, the 22-year-old winger is in the plans of Brazil’s Olympic coach Alexandre Gallo to be an overage player on Brazil’s roster during the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The only issue is that Neymar is expected to play for Brazil at the 2016 Copa America Centenario tournament being held in the U.S. and his involvement in the Rio Olympics could see him miss the start of FC Barcelona’s season in Spain.

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Brazil to Spend Record $600 Million to Boost Olympic Medal Hopes

July 24, 2014

Tariq Panja – Bloomberg, 7/23/2014

Brazil’s Olympic Committee will spend a record $600 million in an attempt to secure a top 10 medals ranking when the Summer Games take place in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

Through a combination of public and private funding, the country will prepare 400 athletes with the aim of as many as 30 medals, 13 more than the the team achieved at London 2012. For that event, Brazil, which was joint 14th place on the total medals ranking, spent $350 million. It was 22nd in gold medals.

Hosting duties gives Brazil responsibility to outperform its previous records, said Marcus Vinicius, director of sport at Brazil’s Olympic Committee.

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