World Cup Notes: World Cup Workers Told To Keep Low Profile Amid Protest Fears
World Cup workers "have been advised to keep a low profile in Brazilian cities amid growing fears of protests when the tournament kicks off." FIFA and other tournament agencies "have advised staff on security measures, including the wearing of non-branded clothing, to avoid being targeted by protesters." After violent demonstrations at the Confederations Cup last summer, FIFA "is worried that anyone associated with the World Cup could be vulnerable." It has "reduced the branding on many staff vehicles in Brazil." Workers at the tournament "have been advised on avoiding trouble and measures to take if they are caught up in riots." Police "are planning large exclusion zones around the stadiums to ensure that the tournament is not disrupted, but demonstrations are still expected in many city centres" (LONDON TIMES, 6/11). ... Authorities in western Bangladesh "pleaded with football fans Tuesday to remove tens of thousands of Brazilian and Argentinian flags from their rooftops as World Cup fever grips the normally cricket-mad nation." Mustafizur Rahman, government administrator of Jessore district, which is home to 2.7 million people, said that "the mass display of support for the tournament’s two favourites was disrespectful to Bangladesh’s own flag" (PAKISTAN TODAY, 6/10). ... A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll "showed that just under three in 10 people consider themselves to be fans" of professional football in the U.S. A similar number said that "they planned to watch World Cup matches." But a natural fan base born out of the country's popular youth football programs "could change that." Perhaps "the biggest sign" that football has made it in the U.S. was the $250M, three-year rights deal struck by U.S. broadcaster NBC with the EPL in '12. At the time, NBC Sports Group Chair Mark Lazarus said the league was "on the cusp of exponential popularity growth" in the U.S. (AFP, 6/11). ... In Thailand, local broadcast-rights holder RS "struck a deal with TrueVisions, meaning many subscribers will now be able to watch the games without paying extra." But that still leaves the majority of fans with a dilemma: fork out 1,590 baht ($49) for an RS World Cup set-top box to ensure they do not miss a single game in the once-every-four-years event, "or stick with free TV where only 22 of the 64 matches will be broadcast." It is "not just fans in Thailand." Across the globe, viewers "are having to pay extra for the satellite and cable TV feeds of the tournament." Fans in Hong Kong "have to sign up for two years of cable service" at the equivalent of 160 baht ($5) per month, while U.S.-based pay-TV subscribers "need to cough up" an extra $10 (THE NATION, 6/11). ... FIFA President Sepp Blatter "suggested that football could one day be played on other planets when he made his opening address to delegates at the start of its 64th Congress on Wednesday." Blatter: "From north to west to east and south ... and we shall wonder if one day our game is played on other planets and then one day we won’t have the World Cup, we will have interplanetary contests." Blatter's "light-hearted remarks came at the start of what is likely to be a hugely important Congress" (REUTERS, 6/12).