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SBD Global/May 8, 2014/International Football

Brazil Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo Attacks English Over World Cup Security Fears

Brazil Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo made a series of "provocative comments" on the English as he sought to defend his country’s "serious" security problems ahead of the World Cup, according to Tony Bonnici of the LONDON TIMES. Playing down the negative headlines, Rebelo said the outbreaks of violence were not as bad as those faced in Iraq or Afghanistan where "hundreds of young soldiers" had died. There were riots in Copacabana Beach district in Rio de Janeiro last month and fears for football fans’ safety "were sparked only last week by the fatal shooting of man during a clash with police close to the England team hotel in the city." Rebelo said, "We all have our tragedies and challenges, serious problems relating to security. I don’t think the English will confront greater threats in Manaus than in the Iraqi provinces or Afghanistan, where they recently lost hundreds of young soldiers." Turning on England coach Roy Hodgson’s admission that his team had wanted to avoid Manaus as a venue, not least for its energy-sapping Amazon heat, Rebelo "got in another dig." He said, “The English got used to hot temperatures during the colonial era -- and the Iraq war.” Noting the northeastern coastal city of Recife hosts a British cemetery, a relic of a "sea-faring colonial power’s historic tropical adventures," he said, "I don’t think its population will rise because of the World Cup" (LONDON TIMES, 5/7).

COPS THREATEN STRIKE: The AP reported Brazil's Federal Police are "threatening a nationwide strike" during the upcoming World Cup if the government does not "increase their pay and improve working conditions." Officers protested outside a Rio venue where national team coach Luiz Felipe Scolari was announcing his roster for the Cup. Federal Police Union President Andre Vaz de Mello said, "If we don't see a government response to change things, we will stop working during the World Cup" (AP, 5/7).
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