FIFA President Says Brazil Will Benefit From World Cup As Protests Continue
FIFA President Sepp Blatter said that Brazil "will benefit" with more than just new football stadiums from hosting the 2014 World Cup, as "unrest in the country continued to overshadow the Confederations Cup," according to Andrew Downie of REUTERS. In an interview with Rio's O Globo newspaper, Blatter said, "In football, the whole country gets the legacy. Football involves the whole country. The country improves airports, hotels, highways, telecommunications, sustainability programs." Blatter and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff "were booed by a capacity crowd at the Confederations Cup opener on Saturday and other matches have provided a rallying point for protests" (REUTERS, 6/19). INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL's Andrew Warshaw reported Blatter said that "the protestors should look at the bigger picture in terms of the investment being made and the benefits they will bring." Blatter: "Brazil asked to host the World Cup, we did not impose the World Cup on Brazil. They knew that to host a good World Cup they would naturally have to build stadiums." On Wednesday, protesters "blocked the main access road to the stadium hosting Brazil's game against Mexico, forcing official FIFA vehicles to be diverted away from the Arena Castelao" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 6/20).
PARTY'S OVER: The AP reported beyond complaints about transit fares, protesters "haven't produced any concrete demands," mainly venting their anger at not just the government of President Rousseff, but "with the entire governing system." A common chant at the rallies has been "No parties!'' Twenty-two-year-old deomstrator Yasmine Gomes, who squeezed into the plaza in central São Paulo where Tuesday night's protest began, said, "What I hope comes from these protests is that the governing class comes to understand that we're the ones in charge, not them, and the politicians must learn to respect us'' (AP, 6/20).
PELÈ'S PLEA: In London, Joe Leahy reported Pelé "shocked" Brazilians by urging them to “forget” the protests and concentrate on cheering for the national team. Appearing on a local TV station, Pelé said, "Let’s forget all of this mayhem that’s happening in Brazil, all of these protests, and let’s remember that the national team is our country, our blood." The remarks "have appalled many Brazilians" and "also threw a spotlight on the increasing politicisation of football in a country in which the sport is a national obsession" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 6/20). REUTERS' Todd Benson reported while "revered by football fans the world over," Pelé's image "has been tarnished at home by a string of perceived clumsy comments over the years," once prompting former Brazilian striker Romario to famously comment that "Pelé when silent is a poet." Social media users "were less than complimentary about his latest comments, many saying the Brazil great's wealth meant he knew little of how ordinary Brazilians lived." One Brazilian posted on her Facebook page, "Now Pele takes it upon himself to record a video telling the population to forget this commotion and back the squad. The national squad, FIFA, the stadiums costing millions, go to hell." Another wrote, "Go to the hospitals, take a bus with no security, then I want to see if you keep saying stupid things" (REUTERS, 6/20).
NEYMAR'S SUPPORT: REUTERS' Brian Homewood reported Brazil forward Neymar "has voiced his support" for the protesters. Neymar wrote on Facebook, "I'm Brazilian and I love my country. I have a family and friends who live in Brazil. For that reason, I want a Brazil which is more just, safer, healthier and more honest. The only way I can represent and defend Brazil is on the pitch, playing football. From now on, I will enter the field inspired by this movement" (REUTERS, 6/20). The AFP reported teammate David Luiz "also spoke out in support of the mass protests." Luiz: "I'm in favor of demonstrations without violence. Citizens have a right to express their opinions and the fact they're not happy. It's a way of achieving their demands and improving the situation in the country." Teammate Dani Alves said, "Order and Progress without violence for a better Brazil, a peaceful Brazil, an educated, healthy, honest and happy Brazil" (AFP, 6/20).