Analysis – Brazil riots raise questions over sporting mega-events

publicado por Reuters/UK em 26 de junho

Reuters UK análise

Activists and students stand in a cloud of tear gas as they clash with riot police outside the Mane Garrincha National Stadium in Brasilia, June 15, 2013.
Credit: Reuters/Gustavo Froner


Brazilian anger against the cost of staging the World Cup could undermine the argument that host countries benefit from sporting mega-events as they become too big for most countries to handle.

UEFA’s idea of splitting the Euro 2020 championship into mini-tournaments hosted in 13 different countries could be one of the alternatives which organisers could follow in the future, analysts say.

Brazil has been hit by a wave of nationwide protests as it hosts the eight-team Confederations Cup, a dry-run for next year’s World Cup which will be staged in 12 different cities.

Although the protesters have a multitude of grievances, one of their main complaints has been the contrast between shiny new stadiums and shambolic state of public services including health, education and transport.

They are also angry that Brazil has broken a promise not to spend public money on stadiums, while failing to build many of the planned infrastructure projects.

“The stadiums for the World Cup will be built with private money,” Orlando Silva, sports minister at the time, said in 2007 when Brazil was confirmed as the host nation. “There will not be a cent of public money for the rebuilding of the stadiums.”

Instead, building work fell behind schedule and the state and federal governments had to come to the rescue.

Meanwhile, at least five host cities will miss out on promised bus lanes, metro lines or tram services and cities are now likely to declare public holidays on match days to reduce traffic, a move which critics says reeks of typical improvisation.

“What is happening right now in Brazil should be a watershed for FIFA and the World Cup,” said Simon Chadwick, professor of sports marketing at Coventry University in central England.

“It should respond by working more strategically to ensure that future World Cups are not just two-week showcases, but have a longer-term legacy for host nations.

“It some ways, it’s an acid test for FIFA and its ability as an organisation to adapt, respond and learn.”


“FIFA has never been especially open, direct or vociferous in accentuating legacy as an element of bidding and hosting,” he added. “Such discussions are often centred on the number of people playing the game and the development of grassroots and competitions.”

While Brazil, which also stages the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, struggles to cope with the World Cup, other countries appear to be losing the appetite to stage major sporting events.

Switzerland, one of the world’s most prosperous countries, backed down from bidding for the 2022 Winter Olympics after residents of the proposed host cantons voted against it in a referendum.

The 2020 Olympics games drew only five formal bids, from Istanbul, Madrid, Tokyo, Baku and Doha.

“It is showing that major sporting events have reached a point where you need to re-discuss what is being done and what is really a legacy,” said Sylvia Schenk, senior advisor for sport at anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International.

“Even the bidding itself has become very expensive and costs millions of euros.”

Chadwick warned of “industrial concentration” where “the same small group of nations repeatedly host sporting mega events.”

“This clearly would not be good for the public and for democracy in sport,” he said. “The global economic downturn of recent years needs to sharpen people’s sense that sporting mega-events have spiralled out of control.”

Last month, a UNESCO-organised meeting of sports ministers in Berlin issued a declaration which warned of the way events such as the World Cup, European championship, Olympics and winter Olympics were awarded and staged.

It said that “many oversized stadia are not financially viable post-event” and said increasing demands on host nations “may act as a disincentive to bid for major sport events and risk excluding certain countries from the bidding for or hosting of such events.”

It also noted the trend of overbidding, described as “incurring higher costs than necessary in order to outbid competitors….and a corresponding escalation of hosting costs.”


UEFA made a radical move after it received only three bids to host the 24-team European championship in 2020, instead deciding to stage the contest in 13 cities around the continent, each hosting three or four games.

“There are reasons to commend it, most notably the spreading of financial risk and cost,” said Chadwick.

Host countries needed only one stadium, in some cases holding only 30,000 people. “It could be the right direction, even smaller countries usually have one stadium where they can stage two or three games,” said Schenk.

FIFA, which has already awarded the 2018 World Cup to Russia and 2022 tournament to oil-rich Qatar, has more immediate worries, as it is seen as the villain of the piece in Brazil due to the conditions it has imposed on the host nation.

Countries can only stage the World Cup if they agree to tax exemptions and enforce FIFA’s marketing rules, among other things. In Brazil’s case, this has included lifting a ban on alcohol sales in stadiums, prompting former Brazil forward Romario, now a Congressman, to say that FIFA had set up “a state within a state.”

“FIFA has been caught napping,” said Chadwick. “The global political agenda has been turbulent for some time now…..FIFA should have seen what was coming. It has advertently, although entirely predictably, become embroiled in a geo-political debate.”

(Reporting by Brian Homewood, editing by Justin Palmer)


Nota do COPAC – Comitê dos Atingidos pela Copa (BH/MG) –  publicada no Facebook  em 26 de junho

O Comitê Popular dos Atingidos pela Copa participou ativamente de mais uma marcha em Belo Horizonte pelos direitos do povo, contra as violações e privatização do espaço público em decorrência da realização do megaevento Copa das Confederações FIFA.
A marcha decorreu de forma tranquila e pacífica até a Avenida Abraão Caram, quando um conflito de grandes proporções se instaurou entre manifestantes e polícia militar. Os manifestantes de movimentos sociais e do COPAC fizeram um cordão humano para isolar o acesso à barreira imposta pela FIFA e pelo Governo do Estado, mas algumas pessoas tencionaram a barreira física e a polícia revidou sobre toda a manifestação lançando bombas de “efeito moral”, gás lacrimogêneo e balas de borracha. Consideramos que o fato de as pessoas haverem tencionado a barreira da FIFA se relaciona à revolta da população com a realização de megaeventos de forte caráter privatista e elitista em um país marcado por tantas desigualdades sociais e necessidades prioritárias. Repudiamos, sim, a barreira imposta que é ilegítima, pois cerceia a população dos espaços da Repudiamos também a violência com que a polícia reprimiu a manifestação, uma vez que tinha plena condição de resistir às provocações de poucos manifestantes para não violar todos aqueles que saíram as ruas para lutar pelos seus direitos. Temos suspeitas, inclusive, da presença de policiais infiltrados incitando a violência para justificar uma posterior ação que visa dispersar a manifestação.
Não consideramos que os chamados “atos de vandalismo” justifiquem uma ação de repressão que coloca a vida das pessoas em risco. O COPAC, embora não promova nem estimule ações diretas contra o patrimônio, não aceita a dicotomização realizada pelo estado e pela mídia entre vilões e mocinhos. Como espaço agregador de diferentes coletivos, movimentos e grupos de atingidos pela Copa, entendemos como válidas as diversas formas de manifestação da indignação coletiva que visem objetivos progressistas e não promovam a violência direta contra as pessoas. Não confundimos pacificidade com passividade.cidade em favor da volúpia lucrativa da FIFA e das empresas a ela associadas.



The Last Word: Mr Blatter, the party’s over

publicado no site do jornal The Independent em 23 de junho.

The Last Word: Mr Blatter, the party’s over

Brazilians riot against football and Pele is ridiculed – the end is nigh for costly World Cups and Olympics


The beautiful game is up. When Brazil is conditioned to hate the World Cup and its people traduce Pele as a traitor, football has lost its relevance and its reason. International sport may never be the same again.

Revolutions are sudden, instinctive and deadly. Empty rhetoric, regurgitated by grandees such as Sepp Blatter, has been rejected by those who want schools and hospitals rather than bread and circuses. It is hard to avoid the conclusion a tipping point has been reached.

Violent images from Brazil, of demonstrators silhouetted by flames and riot police using rubber bullets and pepper spray to suppress mass protest, have a relevance beyond the current Confederations Cup, next year’s World Cup and the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Once major sports events become a focal point for social unrest and political opportunism, in the way such global governmental summits as G8 attract activists, they are an embarrassment rather than an embellishment to a nation’s image.

Little wonder the invisible army of sleek-suited parasites who have subjugated sport to their own commercial ends are terrified; sponsors and TV executives will peer into the abyss and recognise the toxicity of their situation.

Should they revert to type, the men who run organisations such as Fifa and the IOC will only trust themselves to partner undemocratic and unyielding regimes. The natural extension to football’s World Cup cycle, following dubious staging posts in Russia and Qatar, is to pitch up in North Korea.

Yet they are deaf to those who resent their irreconcilable privileges. Fifa made in excess of £2 billion from the 2010 World Cup, leaving South Africa’s fragile economy to underwrite building programmes, infrastructure projects, policing and security strategies. London’s Olympic legacy is negligible.

The World Cup, like the Olympics, is collapsing under the weight of its pretension. When Blatter lectured protesters for threatening football’s “spirit, essence and integrity” he was reminded that he succeeded a Brazilian, Joao Havelange, who was exposed as corrupt and despotic.

As the discredited president of a discredited organisation, Blatter acted in character by scuttling away from the protests of two million citizens, galvanised by the inequalities represented by sports events which have become too big, too costly and too grandiose in times of economic hardship.

He was blind to the irony of his refuge, Turkey, whose hopes of staging the 2020 Olympics have been swallowed by the flames of simultaneous internal unrest, timed to coincide with the Under-20 World Cup. Fundamental change is in the air.

The fate of Pele informs us of the limited power of legend. The sense of betrayal and the subsequent loss of respect when he vilified demonstrators as “bandits and bad people” was profound. Romario, a World Cup winner turned congressman, dismissed him as “a poet, when his mouth is shut”.

Footballers are becoming politicised. The Brazil players David Luiz, Dani Alves, Hulk and Fred spoke in unison, supporting those who took to the streets. Neymar accused his government of ignoring their “obligation” to the Brazilian people.

The game has been a source of pride, a unifying factor in a disparate country. The passion remains – many players were on the verge of tears when a sell-out crowd sang an a capella version of the national anthem before the recent win over Mexico – but the poison must be extracted. Blatter and his cronies should be consigned to the dustbin of history as soon as is convenient.

It’s hard to lose a leader like Cram

Bureaucrats breathed a sigh of relief yesterday when Steve Cram announced his intention to step down as chairman of the English Institute of Sport.

It is a decade too late for those whose shortcomings were exposed by the former world-record holder’s insight, intelligence and political nous. I’ll declare an interest. Cram and a visionary named Wilma Shakespear persuaded me to take a five-year sabbatical from scribbling to help set up the EIS.

It was an instructive process. No sooner had we been empowered to oversee a strategic vision for supporting Olympic athletes than there was a concerted attempt to kill the organisation at birth.

Establishment figures sent in shamefully expensive management consultants to waste time and money which would have been better invested in a new generation of sport scientists.

We survived, and thrived. A new culture has been developed by young, fiercely committed and impeccably qualified support staff, who make the critical difference.

The EIS have more than 200 practitioners, who worked with 86 per cent of the Team GB medallists at the London Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Without Cram, that would not have been possible. He is precisely the sort of leader British sport cannot afford to lose.