Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 6 No. 212

People and Pop Culture

The FIFA World Cup has officially gotten underway with Brazil beating Croatia 3-1 in the opening match on Thursday evening. The month-long tournament is a chance for the world’s seventh largest economy to showcase its best attributes. However, the lead up to the event has been hampered by a number of issues. SBD Global talked to Brazilian Sports Minister ALDO REBELO and Tourism Minister VINICIUS LAGES about the opportunities and headaches of the hosting the World Cup finals.

On the importance of the World Cup for Brazil…
Lages: The goal is to showcase what makes Brazil such an attractive, rich, varied and unique destination: its products, attractions, colors, sounds, smells, tastes, but mainly its greatest treasure, which is the Brazilian people itself. We are a nation of warm people, from end to end, and we will welcome with open arms all foreigners who come to Brazil to be part of this great celebration. It’s a unique moment to improve our international image and promote tourism.

Rebelo: The World Cup has led to billions of reais in transactions by governments and the private sector. Therefore, our competitors at the geopolitical, as well as the economic level, do not accept that we also get an A in the staging of big events. However, if we do not get an A, we will get a B+. The coverage being provided by some media outlets has chosen to emphasize our problems, leaving aside our virtues in relation to the organization of the World Cup. Brazil, as any other country, has problems. We do not want to hide our difficulties, our imbalances. Little by little this is changing and the perception that we are able to stage the World Cup well will end up prevailing.

On improvements to the country’s infrastructure…
Lages: The 2014 FIFA World Cup is a great opportunity for Brazil to speed up the building of infrastructure that had been already scheduled in government planning. Big projects that were supposed to be ready in 2017 have been speeded up, and we are sure that our visitors are going to have a wonderful experience all over the country, starting at the time of their arrival.

Rebelo: The World Cup provided the opportunity of anticipating construction work aimed at improving the country’s infrastructure. Construction work not ready by the start of the FIFA tournament will be delivered soon after. Essential construction work for staging the World Cup has been finished.

On skyrocketing hotel rates and airfares...
Rebelo: The government has means to oversee and avoid overpricing. Competition between enterprises also works as a price regulator. Two airlines have already guaranteed maximum prices of $999 reais ($450) during the World Cup. This is less than what is charged on many domestic routes today. The hotel sector is able to supply for tourists and any overpricing will be repressed by legislation and the market itself. In case of airlines, it’s all about supply and demand. I mean, this is a self-regulated system. If you are searching for some flights to travel inside Brazil during the Cup, probably you will have a big and positive surprise.

Lages: The pricing freedom is a big conquest for the Brazilian society; therefore the government has the mission of stimulate the market’s competitiveness. In the case of the accommodations market, we have been encouraging alternatives for lodging such as camping, bed and breakfast places and hostels. The federal government has also been following the variation rating of essential services for tourists: lodging used to be a concern, but not anymore. Anyway, eventual outliers are being monitored by the government. We have been defending fair, reasonable prices and also a provision of quality services.

Hangin' With is a weekly feature that runs Fridays in SBD Global.

Spanish Basketball League (ACB) side Bilbao Basket coach RAFA PUEYO will not remain with the club for next season. The club "announced the decision on Thursday morning" (AS, 6/12). ... Bundesliga club Hamburg SV has appointed DIETMAR BEIERSDORFER "as its new executive chairman." Beiersdorfer "terminated his contract with Russian Premier League side Zenit St. Petersburg, which was supposed to run until '15" (BILD, 6/12). ... ESPN named the Guardian U.S. Sports Editor STEVE BUSFIELD ESPN FC and managing editor (ESPN).

Do you have an executive announcement? If so, please send to

Chelsea on Thursday announced that it signed CESC FABREGAS. The 27-year-old joined Chelsea on a five-year contract after a three-year spell at Barcelona, where he joined the club's youth academy at the age of 10. Before his recent stint with Barça, Fabregas played for Arsenal for eight years (Chelsea). ... Spain's Attorney General's office has requested that Atlético Madrid Sporting Dir JOSÉ LUIS PÉREZ CAMINERO "face a four-year prison sentence for suspected money laundering." Caminero was arrested in '09 "as part of a national operation that broke up three organized groups connected to drug trafficking and money laundering" (EP, 6/11). ... Wasserman Media Group announced MESUT ÖZIL joined the agency. The former Real Madrid player has 55 caps for Germany and became the most expensive German football player of all time when he joined Arsenal in September (Wasserman). ... Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars World Cup winning captain JODIE FIELDS announced her retirement from int'l cricket. She is the seventh most-capped Australian women's int'l, notching four Tests, 67 ODIs and 37 Women's T20 Int'l matches (Cricket Australia).

GIRL POWER: WNBA players NNEKA OGWUMIKE and CHINEY OGWUMIKE are "two of the most prominent Nigerian-American athletes" in the U.S., and last week they "rolled out the details of their relationship with UNICEF." Creating a competition for middle school and high school girls' basketball teams, the sisters have "hatched a fundraising effort in which teams compete to raise the most money to benefit UNICEF's U.S. Fund, including the Girls' Education Project, which aims to give 1 million girls in northern Nigeria access to quality learning, provide scholarships for female teachers and establish safe spaces for girls." The Ogwumikes will "devote their time and energies to the new program while playing through their WNBA seasons" (ESPNW, 6/10).

BBC's DAVID BOND: "Just gone through Carrao station - mounted police out in force but seems quiet after violent clashes between police and protesters earlier"

London Telegraph's JIM WHITE: "There was a peaceful anti World Cup protest in Fortaleza this morning. Point somewhat undermined by half the marchers wearing Brazil shirts"

London Telegraph's HARRY WALLOP: "Horrible neologism. "Three-screening" to describe watching match on TV, looking up stats on tablet, tweeting on smartphone"

London Guardian's OWEN GIBSON: ''Reports of police clashing with protesters outside the stadium. Inside, Fifa holding a press conference on the "handshake for peace"."

New York Times' SAM BORDEN: "Terrible luck for Marcelo. That was almost as bad as the opening ceremony."

If you see a tweet we will not want to miss, send it to us at