Brazil’s finance minister rejects criticism of World Cup, economy

April 10, 2014

Luciana Magalhaes & Rogerio Jelmayer – The Wall Street Journal, 4/9/2014

Brazilian Finance Minister Guido Mantega blasted critics of his country’s World Cup preparations and vowed that Brazil’s economy would revive from its lethargy, for which he mainly blamed outside forces.

“I believe that the Cup is being politicized,” Mr. Mantega said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal in New York before attending a gathering of the International Monetary Fund. “For Brazil to host the Cup, it needs to meet FIFA’s requirements for a certain numbers of stadiums and seats, and that is being done,” he said, referring to the world soccer governing body.

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Brazil falling short in rush to overhaul World Cup airports

April 7, 2014

Brad Haynes & Anthony Boadle – Reuters, 4/7/2014

With less than 10 weeks until the start of the World Cup, work on crucial new airport terminals has fallen behind in most of the dozen Brazilian host cities, heightening the risk of overcrowding and confusion during the tournament.

A temporary canvas terminal will be used instead of a planned airport expansion to receive fans in Fortaleza, which will host six matches including Brazil’s game against Mexico and a quarter-final. Officials are already preparing alternatives for other cities.

“Other airports have not said anything yet, but they will probably have to come up with contingencies,” said Carlos Ozores, a principal at aviation consultancy ICF International who has consulted for Brazilian airlines and airport operators.

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Brazilian World Cup tourism boom seen muted on protests

April 3, 2014

Christiana Sciaudone & Felipe Frisch – Business Week, 4/2/2014

Brazil’s biggest car-rental agency is concerned that the country has yanked in the welcome mat for World Cup soccer fans.

When the country was picked in 2007 to host the world’s most-watched sporting event, Localiza Rent a Car SA Chief Executive Officer Eugenio Mattar said he foresaw “an explosion of tourists.” Now he said he sees lukewarm demand from the event as social unrest in the country has dampened fans’ spirits and may detour tourists.

Brazilians aren’t seeing the promised benefits of being the World Cup host, with some transportation projects unfinished and stadium costs that swelled more than 40 percent to at least 8 billion reais ($3.53 billion). Protests across the country that began last June in demand of better education and healthcare turned deadly, reducing potential benefits for businesses such as Localiza, according to Mattar.

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Brazil kicks up taxes on beer, soda ahead of World Cup

April 1, 2014

Rogerio Jelmayer – The Wall Street Journal, 4/1/2014

The Brazilian government on Tuesday said it has raised taxes on beer and soft drinks just in time to reap a windfall from the soccer World Cup in June and July.

The tax increase will raise an estimated 200 million Brazilian reais ($85 million) by the end of the year to help bolster the government’s finances, according to a government official, who declined to be named for this article.

The Brazilian government has been criticized for allowing spending to rise in recent years. The slipping accounts and consequent increase in public debt was one of the reasons behind Standard & Poor’s decision last week to cut the sovereign credit rating of Latin America’s largest economy by one notch to the lowest level in the investment-grade category.

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World Cup won’t be a game changer for Brazil

March 31, 2014

Matt Day – The Wall Street Journal, 3/31/2014

As many as 600,000 tourists are expected to flock to Brazil this summer for soccer’s biggest tournament.

Will that translate into a meaningful boost to South America’s largest economy? Don’t bet on it, Moody’s Investors Service says in a report today. For all the eyeballs and visitors the World Cup will draw, they say the event is likely to have “fleeting effects” on Brazil.

Sure, tourists will crowd onto flights operated by Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes S.A.GOLL4.BR -1.71%, rent cars from Localiza Rent a Car S.A.RENT3.BR -0.27%, and guzzle Brahma beer brewed by Anheuser-Busch InBev NVBUD -0.48% subsidiary AmBev. They’ll pass through roughly $11.5 billion in new or remodeled airport terminals and stadiums.

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Rio de Janeiro police posts attacked

March 21, 2014

The Associated Press – The Miami Herald, 3/20/2014

Rio de Janeiro police say suspected drug gang members have attacked three of the so-called police pacification posts set up recently in slums.

At least one policeman was shot and wounded Thursday night, while the police outpost — a cluster of metal shipping containers — located near the slum that Pope Francis visited last year was burned.

It’s the latest violence to hit Rio just before the city is set to host several matches during the World Cup.

Since 2008, police have pushed into slums and driven out drug gangs, who lorded over vast swaths of Rio for decades. In an effort to secure the city ahead of the World Cup and 2016 Olympics, police then installed permanent posts.

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Brazil’s economy faces trouble after World Cup, election

March 12, 2014

Brian Winter & Silvio Cascione – Reuters, 3/12/2014

With the World Cup in June and July and a presidential election in October, many Brazilians aren’t thinking beyond 2014. But next year is likely to be memorable for all the wrong reasons in Latin America’s biggest economy.

President Dilma Rousseff, or whoever wins the election, will have to make deep budget cuts, raise taxes and take other painful steps to address Brazil’s growing financial imbalances.

The fallout will likely be more damaging than many investors anticipate, resulting in a fourth straight year of disappointing growth – a big fall back to earth for a country that last decade was one of the world’s most dynamic emerging markets.

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Carnaval can’t quell frustrations, concern in popular tourist town along Rio coast

March 6, 2014

Dom Phillips – The Washington Post, 3/5/2014

José de Moraes leapt into the air as if possessed by the frenzied rhythm that his drummers were beating out. As master of the drum section of his Carnaval street party, or bloco, his job was to choreograph the furious samba beats that sent revelers wild.

He leapt and danced like a rubber man in the midst of the bloco, called Paraty do Amanhã (Paraty of Tomorrow), on a narrow street in this popular tourist town on the Rio de Janeiro coast that attracts more than a million visitors a year.

For Brazilians, Carnaval is a five-day national escape from the harsher realities of life. The year in Brazil only really begins after Carnaval, which wrapped up Tuesday.

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100 days away

March 5, 2014

Wright Thompson – ESPN, 3/4/2014

We landed in Brazil 102 days before the first game of the World Cup, and nobody cared. Well, we cared, because we’re from an American television network and paid to notice these things, but nobody else did. It was the final weekend of Carnival, and the country had basically stopped all operations except drinking and dancing. After Tuesday, which happens to be both Mardi Gras and exactly 100 days out from the start of the World Cup, Brazil can turn its attention to the business of hosting a soccer tournament. Then all the questions — about the danger of protests interrupting the games, about the nation’s infrastructure handling so many sudden visitors — can be answered.

Earlier, we went to a packed local bakery to get some sandwiches in us — lay down a Carnival base — and sitting in the back corner, I caught up with my interpreter Flavio, who’s been with me on three trips to Brazil now. He described the last few weeks here. A journalist had been killed by a protestor’s rocket during a demonstration in Rio, and in Sao Paulo, cops were using MMA-style armbars on protestors.

He told me about a law politicians are trying to push through the Brazilian senate before the World Cup. It is called the Anti-Terrorism Bill, and it would criminalize many of the actions of protestors. Anyone arrested during a demonstration could potentially be labeled a terrorist. Acts of vandalism could be seen as terrorism and punished as such. A Brazilian military document described even peaceful protestors as “opponent forces.” Tin soldiers and Nixon coming. A line is being drawn between the government and its people, because of a sporting event. Opponents might have beaten back the law, but there’s still time.

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Countdown to 2014 World Cup in Brazil: 100 days

March 5, 2014

Jack Bell – The New York Times, 3/4/2014

The 2014 World Cup begins on June 12, when Brazil plays Croatia in the opening match. Reporters and editors for The Times will count down to the start of the tournament each day with a short capsule of news and interesting tidbits.

Tim Cahill is certainly among the most traveled soccer players in the world.

As he gets ready for his third trip to the World Cup finals with Australia, Cahill was back in England preparing for an international friendly on Wednesday against Ecuador at a place he knows well — Millwall’s The Den.

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