Although there has been massive and sometimes violent controversy surrounding the FIFA World Cup games, the protesting of the games wanes the farther along the games evolve. This may be due to the just over 13,333 armed personnel that are in each of the 12 cities that are hosting the games throughout Brazil over the next month. There are 100,000 police officers posted in all of the 12 towns that are acting as host cities, with an additional 60,000 soldiers thrown in for added security. Events had gotten so bad in Belo Horizonte and Rio de Janeiro that store owners there had just started to remove boards from their storefronts that they had placed there to protect their property from clashes between police and protesters.
Much of the controversy has been about the $11 billion the Brazilian Government has spent on the FIFA World Cup games over the last few years, although much of the violent demonstrations wanes as the games evolve, moving forward in a flurry of sporting competition. Amid rumors of purported corruption, and then mounting delays on construction projects for the games, violent confrontations with police by demonstrators were seen in all the cities that are hosting the FIFA World Cup. People who are demonstrating against the games want to bring attention to the fact that Brazil needs more money put towards education and housing.
Although Brazil’s constitution clearly states that their citizens have the right to protest peacefully, many demonstrators in Sao Paulo last Thursday faced violent opposition from security forces. On that day the FIFA World Cup opened, and protesters were pelted with rubber bullets, stun grenades and teargas, by what they called “military police.” The group had been calmly chanting that they wanted an end to their presence during the games. The incident caused Amnesty International to issue the Government of Brazil a “yellow card,” indicating the organizations displeasure on how Brazil is managing the controversy surrounding the FIFA World Cup games, although the violence wanes as the games progress at a steady pace. An Amnesty International “yellow card” shows that the organization believes that Brazil is employing excessive force in dealing with its peaceful protesters.
In Zurich, Switzerland on Saturday, a group of about 150 protesters showed up outside the grounds of the headquarters of FIFA. They were demonstrating in conjunction with Brazil against the money involved in hosting the FIFA World Cup games paid to the organization. The group held signs that reflected their displeasure over how much the games cost to host, and that they loved football but hated FIFA. Some of the demonstrators wore masks over their faces to hide their identities. Swiss police say that although the protest was loud, there was no violence involved, and that it lasted about 20 minutes. Police saw no need to intercede except to make sure no one made it onto the grounds of FIFA headquarters.
After months of protest, the controversy that has been surrounding the FIFA World Cup wanes as the games evolve and move ahead with gusto and strong skirmishes between the world’s top soccer or football players, depending on where in the world you are. According to many of the games Brazilian fans, they say that all they want now is to enjoy the rest of the games. Even though they may agree 100 percent with what the protesters are saying, they just want to be able to watch and cheer the games on in peace. However, safety concerns about some of the venues for the games were still an issue in the week leading up to the games, highlighting the demonstrators concerns and points in regards to the construction issues surrounding the FIFA World Cup.
On Wednesday, only 90 percent of temporary seats in the stadium in Natal, in northeastern Brazil, were slated safe by a safety check. Furthermore, inspectors were not allowed entrance to the stadium while FIFA readied for the Cameroon and Mexico match to be held on Friday. Up to 100 fans of the FIFA World Cup games had been given alternate seats due to concerns over safety issues. Also at bay were questions about the overall safety of the stadium. Additionally in Natal, that city managed to keep the flow of people attending the many games moving by utilizing vans and school buses after the union for bus drivers voted to strike during a dispute over wages.
To complicate matters already stressed to the max was the torrential rain that beat down on Dunas Arena in Natal. It soaked fans, flooded streets, bogged down construction and knocked out a few of the security scanners in the stadium. In Porto Alegre the weather has been keeping the construction site at the World Cup arena soggy and mushy. Conditions are so poor, that demonstrative acts have waned at these areas and the controversy that has plagued the FIFA World Cup games fades as the games evolve into a sporting spectacle that has 900 million fans watching worldwide this year alone. Alternately in Cuiaba, workers had to race to finish carpets and air conditioning for the dry, dusty town, a short time before the Australia and Chile match on Friday.
As the controversy that has plagued the FIFA World Cup wanes and the games evolve into a true sporting competition, more and more Brazilians are claiming to be proud of the fact that their country is host of the FIFA World Cup. A person who lives in an area that saw subway stations built and road improvements implemented states that this has made life easier for them. Yet fans from other countries who have booked into promised hotels and other rest stops have said that a lot of the infrastructure they had heard about was not yet a reality. It is hoped that by the first FIFA World Cup game hosted by Rio de Janeiro today, that the security measures implemented by Brazil ensures for the right to peaceful protest by the many demonstrations that have surrounded the games for months. Security will be focusing on the flow of people and vandalism, instead of tear gas and stun grenades, the police in Rio assure the public.
Opinion by Korrey Laderoute