FIFA "has asked Brazil's government to provide security guarantees amid fears that sweeping civil unrest could pose a threat to the Confederations Cup," according to XINHUA. Less than a day after widespread rioting in Brazil's biggest cities, FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke "denied speculation the tournament, considered a 2014 World Cup warmup event, could be aborted." He said, "We have asked for security measures that we need in place for the competition to continue until the end. I hope that this doesn't last until 2014. It's a problem that Brazil needs to resolve, not FIFA. We are the wrong target" (XINHUA, 6/22). The BBC's Ben Smith wrote reports in the Brazilian media said that the football tournament "may be cancelled, but FIFA has dismissed these reports." A FIFA spokesperson said, "Neither FIFA nor the local organizing committee have ever discussed the possibility of canceling the tournament" (BBC, 6/21).
ROUSSEFF PLEADS FOR PEACE: BLOOMBERG's Cuadros, Schmidt & Panja reported Brazilian police "had to restrain demonstrators who threatened to disrupt the Confederations Cup" Saturday even after President Dilma Rousseff "urged protesters to abandon violence and welcome foreign squads gearing up for next year’s World Cup." More than 100,000 marched in cities throughout Brazil Saturday "as protests demanding improved public services and less government corruption entered a third week." The demonstrations "were smaller than on previous occasions and some of the first to occur after the president in a nationally televised address vowed to improve social services while urging Brazilians to help her host a 'great' World Cup" (BLOOMBERG, 6/23).
ITALY STRANDED: BLOOMBERG's Tariq Panja reported Italy's national football team was "forbidden from leaving its hotel in Salvador because of security concerns over protests that have spread throughout the country." Italy "had allowed its players to travel around Rio de Janeiro when the team arrived for the two-week tournament." Coach Cesare Prandelli said, "Of course during these recent days the situation has changed." Prandelli spoke following reports in local media that Italy’s team had asked FIFA "to consider scrapping the eight-team competition." Prandelli said that "it wasn’t true, and that no member of his 23-member squad has asked to return home" (BLOOMBERG, 6/21).
BLURRING THE LINE: In London, Rod Liddle opined our interest "has been piqued because footie seems to be involved, somewhere along the line." There "is some dispute about this, about the extent to which two high-profile football tournaments have galvanised a minority of quite cross people into a formidable force, torching buildings, thumping the police and tearing stuff down." It "seems to be true that in Rio de Janeiro, at least, the protesters pulled down every billboard that advertised the Confederations Cup, a fabulously pointless tournament." But "you have to say, for a cash-strapped democracy these marquee sporting events are cripplingly expensive." The South Africans "ill-advisedly applied to host the World Cup." The expected profits "did not materialise: they recouped only 10% of their outlay" (SUNDAY TIMES, 6/23). Also in London, Michael Calvin opined the "beautiful game is up." When Brazil "is conditioned to hate the World Cup and its people traduce Pele as a traitor, football has lost its relevance and its reason." Int'l sport "may never be the same again." Revolutions "are sudden, instinctive and deadly." Empty "rhetoric, regurgitated by grandees" such as FIFA President Sepp Blatter, "has been rejected by those who want schools and hospitals rather than bread and circuses." It "is hard to avoid the conclusion a tipping point has been reached" (INDEPENDENT, 6/23).