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Brazil's social anger risks fouling World Cup

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Brazil's social anger risks fouling World Cup


Brazil, one month from launch of its football extravaganza, wants the world to see keen youngsters inaugurating Sao Paolo’s Corinthians Stadium (which workers are rushing to finish). But instead, the world news shows Brazilian violence, regularly.

Ordinary people are rebelling because hosting the World Cup has inflamed prices and the money spent on the event means money not spent on social considerations.

Millions of tourists will start arriving soon. They’ll see heavily armed security forces. But that sight itself feeds the anger of many less affluent Brazilians.

Opinion polling has shown that 52 percent of the population are happy World Cup’s coming. That is down from 79 percent last November — a 27 percent dive.

UEFA President Michel Platini said: “The Brazilians really must be told that they’re here to show what’s best about their country, their passion for football, and if they can wait one month before their social explosions it would be good for all of Brazil and for Planet Football.”

The riots started heating up a year ago, as people saw things get more expensive and their purchasing power suffer. The announcement of what the thing was going to cost sparked ignition.

Eleven billion euros, where the national average salary equals around 640 euros and the lowest legally is around 240 per month. The minimum estimate for a family’s basic needs is 1,000 euros.

Inflation, 3.6 percent a few years ago, heated up to 6.5 percent last year. As a high end consumer index, take the iPhone; you’ll pay nearly 900 euros for it in Brazil — not quite double the US price. And Brazilians have to pay some 50 percent more for a car or household appliance than in most other industrialised countries.

Food products — rice, vegetables, chicken — are up 20 to almost 100 percent. Rents have more than doubled.

This is the world’s seventh-largest economy, yet six percent of its people live in shanty towns. This parallel world of the poor, occupied against any regulations, house nearly half the population in big cities, missing infrastructure, rife with drugs and crime.

In the absence of adequate public services, notably for health, education and transport, in urban and rural Brazil, the spending on football feels to many like a social programme to exclude them.

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