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Brazil is paying a high price

Why are Brazilians protesting the World Cup?


In many cities, the protests are increasingly directed against the World Cup.

The Brazilian government has already spent $13.7 billion on the World Cup, and the overall investment is set to be over $ 16.5 billion, only a little less than the annual national budget for education ($19 billion). Such investments hugely benefit construction companies that are main financers of political campaigns. Some stadiums are even being built in cities like Manaus and Cuiabá that lack a thriving football culture—and therefore are set to become useless “white elephants”.

The projects that are centered around urban mobility, which account for $6 billion, focus on widening roads and building viaducts, following a car-driven logic.

They are centered around routes to and from airports to hotels and to stadia, which are not a priority in terms of solving the current mobility crisis. One example is Itaquera, an area in eastern Sao Paulo where much-needed infrastructure works demanded by the local communities have been suspended, while huge investments have been made to improve the access to the opening stadium of the 2014 World Cup.

The overall budget for security in the World Cup is about $900 million. Expenses include a $22 million contract with Condor, which has not only supplied arms such as tear gas bombs, pepper spray and rubber bullets to the Turkish police but also to the United Arab Emirates. The contract included the delivery of 2,000 short-distance kits and 500 long-distance kits with such arms—the ones currently being heavily used against protesters in all six cities hosting the Confederations Cup—as well as 1,800 taser pistols and 8,300 light and sound grenades.

For now though, as protesters and police battle in the tear-gas fog of Brazilian cities, policy makers and academics remain mired in the fog of sporting impact measurement, and no one is any the wiser.

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