By Robbie Blakeley, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The CBF (Brazilian Football Federation) has promised that the 2014 FIFA World Cup will be able to take place in a “climate of normality” despite the violence that erupted in Rio de Janeiro over the past two weeks. When the tournament comes to Brazil, it is Rio’s own Maracanã stadium that is scheduled to host the World Cup Final in July 2014.
“I ratify the confidence in the public authorities and recognize the effort by the state government of Rio de Janeiro with the aim of reducing urban violence,” said Ricardo Teixeira, president of the CBF, in Zurich on December 2nd. Teixieira was in Switzerland casting his vote for the hosts of the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups.
“It can be seen that society is reacting strongly against the incidents provoked by criminals in a demonstration that public opinion supports the security policies. As a consequence, I can assure the sporting community that host city Rio de Janeiro will have the climate of normality required to host the Confederations Cup in 2013, and the World Cup in 2014,” he said.
The IOC (International Olympic Committee) has also expressed its satisfaction that the 2016 Olympic Games will still be held in Rio de Janeiro as the police have stepped up their efforts in the city’s battle against narcotics trafficking.
“The Rio 2016 committee has full confidence in the security plans which have been elaborated jointly with the three levels of government (municipal, state and federal) and presented to the International Olympic Committee,” the IOC said in a statement.
Since Rio was awarded the oldest sporting tournament on the planet, there have been a number of unpleasant episodes that have shed negative light upon the city. Just a matter of weeks after the award in October 2009, a police helicopter was gunned down in a battle with drug dealers and in August of this year, gunmen armed with automatic weapons invaded a luxury hotel in the Zona Sul district, keeping residents hostage for 35 hours.
Despite positive comments from Teixeira and the IOC, Rio residents remain unconvinced their city can hosts such global events as a World Cup and Olympic games. Brazilian sports paper Lance! conducted a poll last Friday asking readers whether they thought the city would be ready for the events in 2014 and 2016; a staggering 72 percent answered “no”.
The panic comes after police were deployed in seventeen different favelas to try to put an end to a swell of violence by criminal gangs. Orchestrated attacks were not only carried out in retaliation against the police, but against the public as well; roads were blockaded and cars were set alight in protest to the heavy response from the police.
However, with the violence diminishing in recent days, citizens and state ministers are praying that the city can now move forward and continue with preparations for what promises to be an incredible opportunity to promote everything that Rio de Janeiro, and Brazil as a whole, has to offer the world.