My One Big Fear For The World Cup

A week to go until the big day when Brazil kicks off the World Cup.  There are another 4 days until the city I live in hosts its first game, and they are going to need every last-minute of it because they are still working furiously away on the stadium and the surroundings as I write this.

But the state of the stadiums is not my big fear.  A couple of them might not be perfect and make use of temporary structures, but that isn’t the end of the world.  Neither is the fact that only a few of the stadiums will have wifi and so fans will have to rely on the mobile networks to post their selfies.

Nor am I too worried about transport problems.  The people who matter (the players) will get to where they have to go to, and the fans will probably be a bit delayed, but unless they are travelling at the last-minute they will see the games.  There might be a bit of stress involved, but that’s what you get when you travel around such a big country.

Some people have suggested crime might be a problem, and yes, if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time you might be a victim.  But, to be honest, this could happen anywhere.  So long as you don’t wear your Rolex watch and flash the cash you should be ok.

There will be some, or a lot of, protests.  This should be good and not a problem for the staging of the tournament.  I am glad that Brazilians have started to take matters into their own hands and protest about what they see as unfair conditions in the country.

My big fear, though, is related to the protests.  It is the way the authorities deal with protestors and large group of (often drunken) fans.

The Police

English: Amazing, getting ready for the 2014 w...

Brazilian police car (Wikipedia)

The police in Brazil are under-trained and badly prepared to deal with large groups of people.  They are also, more often than not, pretty badly paid and over-worked which doesn’t help matters.  Their default setting when dealing with large groups of people who are not acting in exactly the way the authorities would like is to shoot first and then deal with the consequences.  The way they reacted to the start of the protests last year only served to fan the flames of indignation among a large part of the population.  they tried to control the message and blame the demonstrators, but forgot that people have access to videos on their phones and were shown up to be the liars they are when images quickly flashed all over youtube and the rest of the internet.

Brazilians know this.  Most Brazilians have a healthy fear of the police which means they do anything possible to not be in the same vicinity as them.

But the foreign fans probably don’t know this.  I can see drunken English fans, with their reputation for hooliganism, intimidating a few police, whose only answer will be to fire rubber bullets into the crowd to disperse them.  I can imagine German fans not wanting to leave a city centre square after a resounding victory and the police encouraging them to do so with liberal use of pepper spray.  How the fans would react to this escalation in violence I would not like to guess, but I can guarantee that the police and friendly media organisations will blame it all on the fans.

I hope I am wrong.  I hope the different sets of Military Police (they don’t police the armed forces, they are the police in a military structure) the state police, municipal police and all the soldiers on the streets will be able to manage both the protestors and the foreign fans sensibly and calmly.

The police are my one big fear.

Read on

Are Brazil’s Police Reformable? – Huffington Post

A video purporting to show some police reaction from the start of the protests a year ago. – Salad Uprising

Can Brazil’s Police Keep the Peace? – A Brazilian Operating in This Area

 

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12 thoughts on “My One Big Fear For The World Cup

  1. Yeah, good point. Like many others, I was on the receiving end of vindictive and brutal police action during the protests last year – over the last year it’s become clear how the police deal with protests. However, as you say, the big unknown is how the police will interact with large groups of foreign fans who aren’t familiar with/expecting their brutal approach to crowd control. Fingers crossed these concerns are unfounded.

    Reply
    • I didn’t see the protests first hand because I was babysitting while my wife went. She was in Brasilia when some people invaded Itamarity and she couldn’t believe the response. On that occasion it was partly because they had lost control. Let’s just hope the worst doesn’t happen.

      Reply
  2. I’ve had similar thoughts. The police in many countries, including certain parts of the U.S., are known for at times engaging in excessive use of force and abuse of power. The “stop and frisk” policy New York had for years was clearly unconstitutional and discriminatory. Still, in the U.S. and elsewhere the philosophy and purpose of the police is different from what we see in Brazil. A common U.S. motto for police departments is “serve and protect,” reflecting the belief the the police are there to help civilians. In Brazil the military police exists to maintain public order for the state to function. That’s it. If the populace has to be beaten down for order to be maintained, so be it.

    Reply
    • The police in the UK are far from saints, and I have had personal experience at football matches and protests about how obnxious and aggressive they can be. However, like the States, there is at least the idea that they police with the consent of the people, which means they have to at least pretend to take into account our views.

      Reply
  3. Pingback: Beyond the World Cup: Brazil's Next Generation

  4. Terrible and violent evictions were done and the poor lost their houses. They will not be able to disturb the event and the tourist will park their cars and walk upon the land of the communities that were destroyed. Protesters have been arrested, shot and killed just for staying on the streets (the streets will be under the Army’s control), for FIFA and its Circus. Tourists won’t need to worry – the brazilian police recently trained at Blacwater (USA) for this “special” event… (ironicmode) – Drama for us! – Enjoy your fake wonderful travel. Anyone who contributes to FIFA’s Crimes and corruption buying tickets and closing their eyes to what has been done in the name of “football” don’t have the right to question any country, instead they should question the Organized Crime (FIFA) modus operandi of requiring and enjoying murders and homelessness for $$$’ sake. Pay for it and be a happy accomplice!

    Reply
    • I agree with your sentiment, if not your aggressive language. The answer lies with the Brazilian people to vote out your elected representatives who have allowed this to happen.

      I am not travelling to the World Cup, I live in Brazil and have een doing so for the last 8 years. Unfortunatley, though, I do not have a vote in Brazilian elections so this is my only voice.

      Reply
    • Hi Julia, like Stephen, I agree with your main points but probably wouldn’t choose to express it in quite the same way. Out of interest, are you a football fan and will you be watching any of the games (on TV – I think you’ve made it clear you won’t be going to the stadiums).

      In hindsight I think Brazil made a mistake in hosting the games, but I’m definitely going to be watching many of the games on TV. I wonder if someone so vehemently opposed to the entire event will have any problem watching (enjoying?) it on TV. All those evil advertisers are paying millions/billions to get the attention of TV viewers, so even if you’re not buying tickets for the matches, if you watch it on TV, you’re colluding aren’t you? I guess you’ll be boycotting it entirely?

      Reply
  5. Here in Los Angeles it sounds like it could be “interesting” and not necessarily in the kind of way that people would enjoy. Hope it goes better than expected.

    Reply

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