Brazil’s anti-FIFA protests: not little, but definitely late

April 17, 2014

Kenneth Rapoza – Forbes, 4/16/2014

As ironic as it may sound, the kingpin of FIFA World Cup soccer has managed to stage the biggest anti-FIFA protests ever.

This is Brazil, land of contrasts, where a small five cent bus fare hike last June turned into a hate fest against all that was once holy in the Land of Pele. With less than two months to go before the “beautiful game” commences in a match between Brazil and Croatia in São Paulo, millions of Brazilians want you to know that you shouldn’t come to their country to see these games. In the local and global press, word is Brazilians now hate soccer.

First some brief soccer history for American readers. Brazil is the only country not to have missed a World Cup, meaning its national teams have always won qualifying rounds every four years when the games are held. They have five World Cup championship titles and have won three in the last four decades, more than any other country. They are home to world famous footballers like Kaka, Ronaldinho and of course Pele.

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World Cup 2014: Brazil “mus act to prevent outbreak of dengue fever” during summer tournament, warns expert

March 17, 2014

Charlie Cooper – The Independent, 3/17/2014

Picture the scene. It’s an hour before kick-off on Brazil’s north-east coast and anticipation is building on the streets of Natal. A crowd of football fans from every corner of the globe is gathering in cafés and caipirinha bars, all on their way to the gleaming new Estadio das Dunas – where health officials wearing gas masks are assiduously fogging mosquitoes out of the gutters, their fumes glimmering in the sun.

Most World Cups have their peculiar, defining feature – “Nessun dorma” at Italia 1990; vuvuzelas in South Africa 2010. But what are the chances that Brazil 2014 will be remembered – somewhat less fondly – as the dengue fever World Cup? Dengue, an infection spread by mosquitoes, “could be a significant problem” in some of the host cities, a leading British expert has warned, amid growing evidence that the disease is “on the march” around the world.

Brazil saw well over a million cases last year and the global tally now totals, by some estimates, around 400 million annually. The disease causes severe headaches and aching in the bones and joints, which can get so bad it has earned the sobriquet “breakbone fever”. Around a quarter of victims become very unwell and in a small proportion of cases it can be fatal.

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Brazil World Cup: FIFA scraps speeches to avoid protest

March 12, 2014

BBC, 3/11/2014

Football’s world governing body, Fifa, has announced that there will be no speeches at the opening ceremony of the World Cup in June.

Last year, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was booed by fans at the opening match of the Confederations Cup – a curtain-raiser for the World Cup.

In an interview with DPA news agency, Fifa head Sepp Blatter expressed concern about social unrest in Brazil.

He said he hoped the event would play a part in calming down the protests.

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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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Brazil inaugurates another world cup stadium

March 10, 2014

Tales Azzoni – The Associated Press, 3/9/2014

 Brazilian officials inaugurated the Arena da Amazonia in the jungle city of Manaus, the ninth World Cup stadium to become available for soccer’s showcase event. Three still have to be finished, including the one hosting the opener in Sao Paulo in about three months.

The Arena da Amazonia wasn’t fully completed Sunday but local authorities inaugurated the venue with a regional championship match with nearly 20,000 people in attendance, including workers who helped to build the venue.

The 44,000-capacity stadium will host four World Cup matches in June, including England vs. Italy and United States vs. Portugal.

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Countdown to 2014 World Cup in Brazil: Day 95

March 10, 2014

Jack Bell – The New York Times, 3/9/2014

The star-crossed stadium in the rain forest was given its first official run-through on Sunday in Manaus, Brazil, with a quarterfinal match in a regional championship.

The Arena da Amazônia was the site of an accident last month in which a worker was killed when a crane collapsed. It is one of 12 venues that will be used for the World Cup, which begins in June. The accident in February once again shined an uncomfortable light on Brazil’s stuttering preparations for the tournament. The stadium was one of six that were not completed by the end of 2013, as had been required by FIFA.

According to The Associated Press, the stadium cost nearly $290 million, about $70 million more than originally expected. Three workers died during construction, including the Portuguese man who was killed while a crane that had been used to construct the stadium roof was being disassembled.

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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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Rio’s slums the hot World Cup destination

February 26, 2014

Shasta Darlington – CNN, 2/26/2014

High above the beaches in Rio de Janeiro’s hillside slums, you can get some of the best views in town. And now, they come from some of the cheapest rooms as well.

With the World Cup less than four months away, residents in many once infamous favelas are opening their doors to tourists, renting beds, rooms or even entire houses, and building youth hostels.

“If you want to see the World Cup, see some football matches and experience true Brazilian life you should really check this out,” says Michael Blommers, a Dutch backpacker staying at a hostel in the Vidigal shantytown.

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FIFA says it won’t hide amid Brazil World Cup protest threat

February 21, 2014

Tarqi Panja – Bloomberg, 2/20/2014

The threat of mass public protests returning to Brazil’s streets during soccer’s World Cup this year won’t push the sport’s governing body into hiding, FIFA’s director of security said.

Brazil’s biggest protests in a generation erupted last June during the Confederations Cup, a warm-up event for the World Cup, which has become a totem for opposition groups. They’ve seized on the event to complain about a range of issues including the amount of money being spent on sports in a country with poor health and education funding.

Protests initially sparked by a rise in bus fares have continued sporadically since then, with demonstrators brandishing anti-FIFA insignia and chanting against the Zurich-based organization. Police used tear gas and rubber bullets near all the Confederations Cup venues.

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