Friday, June 13, 2014

Brazil Put on WC Show



Brazil's military police sporting their new “exoskeleton” gear for the World Cup. Photo by Eva Hershaw
The 2014 Fifa World Cup officially got under way on Thursday. Locals took to the streets to sing and chant their support for Brazil as excitement built up. 

But there was also another side of the country that non-Brazilians witnessed. There were protests. Police in Sao Paulo fired tear gas to break up one small demonstration hours before the opening match. In Rio de Janeiro, police charged with batons and riot shields, and even fired rubber bullets over the heads of scores of people near a metro station on the route to the Arena Corinthians. There were also striking airport workers and striking teachers in separate demonstrations. 

In 2013, there were nearly 700 protests that took place in Brazil. A new generation of demonstrators was coming of age and taking its politics to the street.

Still, the disturbances will not be allowed to disrupt the World Cup. Some 170,000 police and military personnel have been deployed in the 12 host cities. The Brazilian government had announced earlier this year that it was buying nearly 2,700 additional guns to fire rubber bullets. It means business. In total, the budget for World Cup security is topping $900 million.

The total bill for staging the World Cup is a record $11 billion (RM35 billion) which critics say should have been used for education, health, housing and transport. All because of a football tournament. But then again, it is not just any football tournament.

BTW, Brazil beat Croatia 3-1 in the World Cup's opening game a Group A match. But the former didn't really impress.


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