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.
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.
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.
February 18, 2014
Jonathan Watts - The Guardian, 2/15/2014
Another week, another storm of teargas and rubber bullets at a World Cup host city in Brazil. This time, the clashes were in the capital, Brasília, where 15,000 protesters from the Landless Workers Movement marched from the Mané Garrincha football stadium to the Palácio do Planalto state office of the president, Dilma Rousseff.
Riot police using batons and teargas fought off several attempts to invade the building. The demonstrators threw stones and tore down railings which they used as weapons. In the fierce fighting, 12 protesters and 30 police officers were injured.
Rousseff was not in her office at the time, but this latest explosion of unrest is yet another headache for the president in what is supposed to be one of the most triumphant, feelgood years in the nation’s history.
February 18, 2014
Brian Winter – Reuters, 2/15/2014
An October fire at a Brazilian World Cup stadium caused far more damage than previously reported, according to a report by local prosecutors obtained by Reuters, raising questions about whether the stadium will be ready for the competition and why government officials have insisted the blaze was minor.
State officials overseeing construction of the still-unfinished Arena Pantanal in the western city of Cuiabá, which is among 12 Brazilian cities scheduled to host games, have long said the October 25 fire wasn’t a major cause for concern.
However, an 18-page report prepared in December by the Mato Grosso state Public Ministry, an independent judicial body similar to the district attorney’s office in the United States, warned that the blaze caused “structural damage” that “could compromise the overall stability of the construction.”
February 11, 2014
Natalia Ramos – Agence France Presse, 2/10/2014
Brazilians famously love football. But sometimes fanaticism goes overboard and violence results, as recent outbreaks of hooliganism and a fan attack on players attest.
Last December saw one of the worst incidents of hooliganism in years when fans of Atletico Paraense clashed with visitors Vasco da Gama.
Television footage showing fans attacking each other flashed round the world, focusing on one bloodied man being mercilessly kicked in the body and head.
The December violence was all the more shocking, occurring just six months before Brazil stages the World Cup.
February 10, 2014
Gilberto Silva – The Guardian, 2/10/2014
For a lot of people outside the country, the main problem concerning Brazilian football is the delays in construction for the World Cup. However, I would like to bring to your attention a situation that should not be deemed unimportant in comparison: since last year, Brazilian professional footballers have united to demand better conditions, and the weak response we have received from the Brazilian Football Confederation, our ruling body, has increased the possibility of an all-out strike in the first week of the Brazilian championship, on 19 April.
It is possible that it could happen sooner; in the past 10 days two clubs in Sao Paulo state, Corinthians and Ponte Preta, have been victims of co-ordinated actions from groups of ultras who invaded their respective training grounds and threatened players. That has shed a lot of light on the problems we, the players, are facing in this country, a proud football country about to host the World Cup.
Our movement is called Common Sense FC and we are proud of the way things have evolved quite organically. It all started last September, when two players who returned to Brazil after years playing in Europe – the former Fenerbahce midfielder Alex and the former Roma defender Juan – were exchanging shirts at the end of a game and talked about how disappointed they were with how little the situation had changed in Brazilian football.
January 30, 2014
Associated Press, 1/30/2014
The first test match at a World Cup stadium in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre will not be played this weekend as planned because infrastructure work outside the venue has not been completed.
The Beira-Rio is not expected to be fully completed until late February, but local club Internacional was set to host matches with limited attendance beginning on Sunday. The matches would serve as test events as the stadium prepares to host five World Cup games in June.
The decision not to play at the Beira-Rio was made because of all the infrastructure work outside the venue.