Protests took place Thursday in "at least three cities, including Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, to mark the opening match" of the FIFA World Cup, according to a front-page piece by Maese & Phillips of the WASHINGTON POST. Some protests "resulted in road closures and arrests, and in some areas police used tear gas to disperse protesters." Anger "was evident" at Itaquerao Stadium -- which hosted the opening Brazil-Croatia match -- as well, "directed at both FIFA ... and the Brazilian government" (WASHINGTON POST, 6/13). In N.Y., Simon Romero notes fans inside Itaquerao Stadium "made obscene jeers against both President Dilma Rousseff and FIFA ... reflecting anxieties and discontents of an economic slowdown, spending on lavish stadiums and reports of corruption involving FIFA itself." Small protests also "erupted on the streets of several major Brazilian cities hours before the opening of the tournament." While a festive mood "certainly did emerge on Thursday in many parts of the country, the intensity of the crackdown by the police seemed to stun protesters in Sao Paulo, who numbered into the hundreds and were largely voicing opposition to the cost" of the event. Several protesters and journalists "were injured in the tumult," including CNN producer Barbara Arvanitidis (N.Y. TIMES, 6/13). In London, Ben Rumsby notes workers Thursday "blocked the road leading" to the Rio de Janeiro airport. The protesting ground staff, who "declared a 24-hour partial strike," completely closed the street "in one direction for around 10 minutes before military police intervened." Veterans of previous World Cups said that they "could not recall such unhappy scenes at the start of an event" (London TELEGRAPH, 6/13).
MIXED MESSAGES: In London, James Ducker writes Brazil "is unsure how it should feel about this World Cup, uncertain about how an outpouring of patriotism might be received when there are so many groups appalled that the country has committed" significant funds for the tournament "when schools, hospitals and public transport go neglected" (LONDON TIMES, 6/13). In N.Y., Filip Bondy writes Brazil "appeared even less prepared than its nervous national team." Protests "raged a few miles away" from Itaquerao Stadium, where banks of lights "flickered" during the game. It was a "day of very mixed messages" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/13). But the WALL STREET JOURNAL's Lyons & Jelmayer report as kickoff time approached on Thursday, many Brazilians "appeared to feel that they might as well enjoy the tournament even if they don't approve of how it was organized" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 6/13). Meanwhile, REUTERS' Paulo Prada reported despite worries "over traffic and the Sao Paulo stadium, which was completed six months late and wasn't fully tested before the game, there were no reports of major logistical [issues] before or after the game." Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari after the game "praised the stadium as 'incredible' and 'fantastic'" (REUTERS, 6/12).
MASCOT METRICS: In Miami, Mimi Whitefield notes Brazilians "seem to like" Fuleco, the official '14 World Cup mascot, whose name "derives from a blending of the Portuguese words for futebol (soccer) and ecologia (ecology)." FIFA said that he "scored a 7.3 out of 10 on appeal and his association with sustainability and the environment is a message that resonates with Brazilian fans" (MIAMI HERALD, 6/13).
Port of San Diego Board of Commissioners Chair Don Nelson, who is leading the city's bid to land the '17 America's Cup, said he is “excited and optimistic” about the city’s chances, according to Bill Center in a special to the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. San Diego is reportedly “battling Chicago and Bermuda for the event, which will probably be held” in June ’17, with the finals ending around July 4. The list of candidates will be “trimmed to two by the end of the month.” Dennis Conner “brought the America’s Cup to San Diego for three defenses,” in ‘88, ‘92 and ‘95. However, the ‘17 America’s Cup would be “much different than the first three hosted by San Diego.” The race course would be “inside San Diego Bay and not on the ocean off Point Loma,” and it will be “sailed in 62-foot, high-performance catamarans.” The Port of San Diego “already has many of the facilities the teams would need.” One of the “challenges facing all three finalists will be meeting Oracle’s yet-to-be-named physical and financial demands.” Oracle Team USA has “hinted that it wants corporate involvement, with an eye toward making the venue open to as many spectators as possible” (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 6/13). Meanwhile, a delegation from Oracle Team USA is presently in Bermuda to “scrutinise the Island’s bid to host” the event. Team officials traveled to Bermuda this week to “meet with a team, headed up by Economic Development Minister Grant Gibbons, that submitted the bid." A Bermuda race would “create another precedent in that it would be the first time that an American defender has taken the venue from the United States” (ROYALGAZETTE.com, 6/12).
THE SAN FRANCISCO RETREAT: S.F. is not among the finalists despite hosting the event last year, and the S.F. BUSINESS TIMES' Eric Young noted it was “unclear how badly the America’s Cup wanted to return ... and how badly the city’s officialdom wanted it to come back.” Cup officials, “speaking privately over the past several months, seemed lukewarm to the chances of the event returning to San Francisco Bay.” While the teams “enjoyed competing on bay waters, a major real estate deal that was part of the Cup’s original agreement with the city fell through.” Meanwhile, S.F. officials reported that the America's Cup "spurred only a fraction of the economic impact that was originally estimated” (BIZJOURNALS.com, 6/11).
Twenty-nine members of Chambers Bay’s ’15 U.S. Open advance team are at this year’s tournament in Pinehurst to “watch, listen and ask questions” in preparation of hosting the event next summer, according to Scott Hanson of the SEATTLE TIMES. Pierce County (Wash.) Deputy Exec Kevin Phelps said that being at Pinehurst “further assures him that the USGA knows what it is doing when it comes to putting on a championship event.” University Place Mayor Denise McCluskey said that this year’s event is “a glimpse of what her city can expect in a year.” Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor “wants the tournament to run like Disneyland: efficient, safe and secure, with the security part virtually invisible.” He said that the length of the event “makes it a much bigger job than planning security for an event like the Rose Bowl, which lasts a few hours.” But Pastor is “confident the event at Chambers Bay will be secure, thanks to federal, state and local jurisdictions and private companies.” Hanson notes among McCluskey’s activities this week is “meeting with officials from the Village of Pinehurst, focusing on such things as governance, the city’s role, event permitting and community outreach.” McCluskey said that there is "some anxiety among her constituents because of the unknown, and about any inconveniences the tournament might create.” She said, “But overall, we’re amped. People around the world are going to be blown away by Chambers Bay” (SEATTLE TIMES, 6/13).