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The Not So Beautiful Game

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For Focus94 Thaís Mantovani discussed some of the social injustices hiding behind the World Cup in Brazi.

In June this year, Brazil will host the FIFA World Cup. Thirty-two countries will play in the competition attracting attention from all over the world to the tournament and Brazilian society. Expectations are high surrounding the organization of the event, the completion of works, the business opportunities and also the image the country will project internationally.

In terms of tourism it is a great opportunity to promote the country internationally. Lots of investment opportunities will be created and already, since the Forum of the Brazil Hotel Operators could lay claim to 12.6% growth.

There are concerns that the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. Social demands, for example, are being left out and there is plenty of criticism aimed at the lack of transparency in money spent on infrastructural works, especially in the stadiums that are being built or reconstructed.

The event discloses problems that still plague the country. On one side a big sports event that usually brings fun and joy. On the other a country that still faces problems of poverty, social inequality, violence and human rights abuses.

Amnesty International has a broad agenda in Brazil. The main areas of work are public security, forced evictions of slums, foreign policy, indigenous people, human rights defenders, crimes of the dictatorship, sexual and reproductive rights and the social impacts of the big sports events and infrastructure projects.

Speaking of the World Cup, Maurício Santoro, human rights adviser for Amnesty said:

“In 2014 we have many important events which highlight some of these concerns, such as the World Cup or the role of human rights in the general elections of October. However, there have been many serious public security crises since January: brutal prison rebellions in Maranhão, crimes of vigilante groups and police abuses in Rio. Brazil social and economic conditions have improved a lot, but there is still a gap regarding human rights, especially when we discuss the relations between the state and the poor population. Also, 2014 is the 50th anniversary of the coup d´Etat. We will use the date to launch a campaign on the impunity of the crimes of the dictatorship and to tell the history of Amnesty International in Brazil, during the authoritarian regime.”

In relation to the World Cup Santoro says:

“Amnesty International consider the big global sports events to be a very important opportunity to discuss human rights. In Russia, the Winter Olympic Games highlighted the homophobic laws and the violations of the freedom of expression. In Qatar, our focus is slave labor in the public works for the World Cup. In Brazil, our most serious concern is with the repression of demonstrations. We fear that the government may restrict the right to peaceful reunion, to avoid the embarrassment of a big show of opposition. The protests of June-October of 2013 were heavily repressed, with a legacy of impunity of police violence”.

Most of the homeless, slum dwellers and prison inmates in Brazil are black.

They are also the main victims of human rights abuses. The UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, on conclusion of its official visit to Brazil in 2013, found that Brazil promoted greater inclusion of the black population over the past 10 years, but they are still suffering from racism, they also are disadvantaged in access to housing, health and education.

It is essential to pay attention to the racial issue when dealing with human rights in Brazil. We are a country of football and carnival, but the World Cup should be a time to show, that despite difficulties and the long history of human rights abuses, the country is willing to change.


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