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World Cup in Danger?

By Madison Prestine

On June 20, in Maranhao, Brazil, 20-year-old referee Octavio da Silva Catanhede Jordan ejected 30-year-old Josenir dos Santos Abreu from a soccer game. Abreu disagreed with the call and approached Jordan; the debate quickly escalated and Jordan pulled a knife on Abreu. Jordan stabbed Abreu, which brought Abreu’s friends and family to his defense. Fans stormed the field and stoned the referee to death, quartered his body, and displayed his head on a stake for all to see. Abreu died of the stab wound in the ambulance.

On top of this gruesome event, Brazil is currently experiencing one of the largest protests it has seen in two decades. Citizens are outraged at the amount of money Brazil has spent on the World Cup, more than three times the original estimate, $3.68 billion. On Mon., June 20 more than 200,000 protesters filled the streets of Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, and Brasilia. They were crying for justice, infuriated with rises in public transportation prices, corruption, police brutality, and government spending on events such as the World Cup and the Confederations Cup.

Brazilian president stated, “The direct message from the streets is for more citizenship, better schools, better hospitals, better health, for direct participation. My government is trying and committed to social transformation.”

Social, political, and economic unrest is leading to some doubt in the rest of the world, will events such as these lead to the cancellation of the World Cup? More than thirty years ago Columbia was forced to cancel their bid as host; could Brazil be next?

Two groups of protesters are calling on the rest of the world. V de Vinagre and #ChangeBrazil are asking people not to come to the World Cup. They continue to call attention to the millions spent on the new soccer stadium, while the schools and hospitals waste away. On Aug. 30 tens of thousands of workers gathered together to protest on “Dia Nacional de Mobilização e Paralisação.” They called for more social spending, a shorter work week, and a repeal of a proposed labor law.

Despite the civil, political, and economic unrest experts say that Brazil could not pull out now. Most of the buildings are near completion, given that the event is less than a year away. There is no plan b, The Confederations Cup was completed with no major setbacks and FIFA explicitly stated that they are in no way related to the protests and that the World Cup will go on as planned.

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