Confederations Cup Protests No Concern For 2014 World Cup, Octagon VP Says
Octagon Consulting Division Senior VP André Schunk told SBD Global that there was "a pretty big gap between perception and reality" when it came to the media’s coverage of the protests surrounding the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil. Despite great performances on the pitch, the event, which is often referred to as a dress rehearsal for the World Cup, was overshadowed by the social unrest in the streets. However, with the exception of a few incidents, the protests were peaceful. Schunk, who was on the ground in Brazil during the Confed Cup, said, "I think that the protests down there and the unrest made for some good media headlines." He added, "Obviously, there are some important socio-economic issues that are being raised in the country, but the connection between those things and the actual FIFA Confederations Cup wasn’t as linear as it was made out to be." Octagon is currently working with six 2014 World Cup sponsors: Anheuser-Busch InBev, Itau, Johnson & Johnson, Liberty Seguros, Oi and Wise Up. Asked if Octagon's clients were concerned by the demonstrations, Schunk said, "The clients obviously took note and adjustments were made in terms of security plans and precautions were taken in terms of moving guests around. But actual on-the-ground real impact and having to change programs and completely alter the way we were doing things, that simply didn’t happen. It’s something to be aware of and it’s certainly something that will be on everybody’s radar in 2014." Octagon carried out more than 140 events and activations during the Confederations Cup and encountered only three minor issues concerning the protests. The number of activations is expected to increase exponentially in ’14. Octagon Brazil President Alexandre Leitão said that the Confederations Cup gave Octagon and its clients the opportunity to test their "strategies and plans in order to do it bigger during the World Cup."
LOOKING AHEAD: The Confederations Cup also provided organizers with a glimpse of what could happen during next year’s big event. World Cup LOC CEO Ricardo Trade said, "Naturally we were concerned with the safety of the ticket holders." However, he was quick to point out the "greatest achievements" during the two-week test event were the successful "integrations between the LOC, FIFA, the host cities and the federal government." An example of the integration was the cooperation between public security forces and the operation inside the venues carried out by private security firms. Trade said, "We worked together in the planning from the start and continued to share information throughout the tournament, which is essential to guarantee fans’ safety." The tournament also highlighted other issues that will lead to adjustments ahead of the World Cup. "In Recife, for example, there were some issues with the arrival of the fans via metro at the first match, but the operation was revised and the second match was much better," Trade said. "This proves the importance of test events." There is still a lot of work that has to be done ahead of the World Cup. Stadium delays are especially concerning, not only since Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo said that the venues "will not be delivered on time if construction is not accelerated." Asked about the stadium progress, Trade said, "When it comes to the stadiums, the preparation for the FIFA World Cup is on track. Regarding the general infrastructure, the LOC, FIFA, the federal government and the 12 host cities have achieved a very high level of integration and this makes us confident that the necessary infrastructure will be in place come 2014." While protests and construction delays dominated headlines during the Confederations Cup, Leitão said that the competition itself was a success. "It proved that Brazilians love the game, love football and like being part of an official event like the FIFA Confed Cup. It will not be any different, simply much bigger next year during the World Cup."
NOTE: This story was part of SBD Global's special section: "Going global: The driving forces of the sports world." To view the entire section, click here.