In Brazil, FIFA scandal met with sense of vindication

Taylor Barnes, USA Today – 5/28/2015

As word of the arrests of 14 FIFA officials and sports executives spread, many Brazilians responded with surprise, a measure of support and a sense of vindication over the news.

The country has seen large-scale protests since 2013, often directed at the government with many exasperated with expenditures on last year’s World Cup and the Summer Olympics, which Rio de Janeiro will host next year.

In the year since the World Cup, outsize stadiums built in cities across Brazil that do not have soccer clubs large enough to fill them have reportedly been used as bus parking lots, and venues to host children’s parties, weddings and religious events.

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Brazil’s $3 Billion World Cup Stadiums Are Turning Into White Elephants 6 Months Later

Tony Manfred – Business Insider, 1/23/2015

Brazil spent $3.6 billion building and renovating 12 venues for the 2014 World Cup. Despite needing only eight venues to meet FIFA regulations, the country decided to build additional stadiums from scratch in far-flung cities that didn’t need 40,000-seat soccer arenas.

Predictably, those stadiums have not justified the cost in the six months since the tournament ended.The $230 million Arena Pantanal, in Cuiaba, has been closed for emergency repairs less than a year after it opened. Officials say the region’s seasonal rains led to roof leaks and the air-conditioning broke.

According to the Associated Press, the city has only two local teams that draw between 500 and 1,000 fans a game. The stadium holds 42,000 people.

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British World Cup Ticket Official May Be Jailed in Brazil

Tariq Panja – Bloomberg, 11/25/2014

A senior executive of soccer governing body FIFA’s ticketing and hospitality partner could be jailed if he returns to Brazil to await trial for charges including money laundering, racketeering and illegally selling World Cup tickets.

Ray Whelan, a director at Match Services AG, who denies the charges, was arrested twice in raids around the July 14 World Cup final before being held in Rio de Janeiro’s Bangu Prison. A panel of judges on Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court, the country’s highest appeal body, yesterday overturned a ruling allowing Whelan and others to be released from prison in August.

Whelan, 64, who had been ordered to stay in Rio as a condition of his release, left for the U.K. on Nov. 12 after a separate court allowed him to temporarily travel on condition he return within three months. A trial date has yet to be set.

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Brazil Tourism Board Video Launches Campaign to Extend World Cup Success

Brian Major – Travel Pulse, 11/12/2014

Brazil’s Tourism Board is seeking to fan the embers of its successful hosting of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, at least in terms of the country’s surge in international and North American visitor arrivals during the event.

Embratur this week released a 30-second video featuring scenes of 2014 FIFA World Cup travelers celebrating, cheering and at events and experiencing cultural activities in the five Brazilian cities that hosted World Cup events.

The video’s release marks the launch of Embratur’s post World Cup promotional campaign. Recorded throughout the competition, it combines scenes of cheering fans at Brazil’s grand stadiums with others that expose Brazil’s cultural and natural attractions, including an emphasis on the country’s distinctive gastronomy.

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Remember Brazil’s World Cup Protests?

Geoffrey Ramsey – Pan American Post, 10/31/2014

Remember “Não vai ter copa” and the concerns among international media that protests would overshadow the World Cup games this June/July? As it happened, turnout at the demonstrations was far lower than many expected, and the overall legacy of the event was largely unaffected.

But there may have been a reason for that. The initial round of protests in World Cup host cities in the first days of the Cup was met by a harsh crackdown by the state-level Military Police (PM), especially in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. In the former, local human rights group Conectas criticized the police for restricting civil liberties and acting as if a “state of emergency” had been declared, and journalists in Rio de Janeiro clearly captured footage of Rio PM officers brandishing guns and firing live ammunition to break up protests.

Considering the disproportionately repressive police response to the demonstrations, it’s no wonder that they failed to gather critical mass. Indeed, this may have been an unspoken part of these states’ security strategy all along.

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Brazil Must Acknowledge World Cup Failure to Make Progress

Robbie Blakeley – Bleacher Report, 11/04/2014

In all walks of life there are turning points. Moments that force you to stop, contemplate what has gone and fundamentally shape the future. On a personal level that kind of event may be marriage, parenthood, achieving a career goal. An occasion that marks the “then” and “now” of an epic journey.

For Brazil and their incredibly successful national side, one such moment came on July 8, 2014. On that fateful evening, the five-time world champions suffered the most humiliating result in their history, a 7-1 mauling at the hands of Germany in the World Cup semi-final.

It was the most one-sided semi-final result in the tournament’s history. And to rub salt into an already gaping wound, Brazil’s quest to rid themselves of the 1950 ghosts and be crowned world champions on their own soil had been wiped out in less than half an hour of the contest.

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‘Teachers not footballers’ needed by Brazil

Martin Hall – BBC News, 09/30/2014

In the run up to this year’s World Cup in Brazil there were protest banners reading: “Teachers are more important than footballers.” For Brazil, this is saying something. And when Brazilians go to the polls for the first round of the presidential elections this week, one of the main issues will be education.

There is a shortage of some 300,000 primary school teachers. At the other end of the education journey there is space for less than 20% of all students in Brazil’s highly regarded public universities – the rest pay fees for qualifications of variable quality.

In the protests that have swept through Brazilian cities, education is a recurrent theme on placards and in social media. Brazil’s demand for education is driven by both the country’s size and by the sustained economic growth through the presidency of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

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