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Brazil Ambassador Roberto Jaguaribe: 'For us, Football is more than sport'

June 11th, 2014
02:00 PM ET

By Henry Hullah

With the Cup comes the controversy. At least that seems to be the case with Brazil, as the FIFA World Cup is set to kick off this week.

Brazil, a country where football is not just on the pitch but in the blood, has been suffering riots and criticism from FIFA boss Sepp Blatter, who at one point claimed the preparations were the worst he's ever seen.

The Brazilian Ambassador to the UK Roberto Jaguaribe told Amanpour the preparations are not that bad.

"I believe they are Brazilian. Of course, it is important not to lose sight of the specificities of the country where you are going."

"We are deploying 150,000 officers of the police and the armed forces to guarantee the safety of the games."

But as people fill the stadiums will the protesters leave the streets, as Brazil's government hopes?

"I don't think the protests this year have same energy of, let's say, last year when one million people gathered to the streets," said Jaguaribe. "There was a violent trend that was, to a certain extent, pushing people away from the protests. I think that undermined some of the validity of the protest."

"Of course we expect protests, we are a democracy. You can take to the streets."

The major source of these protests is the 14 billion dollar bill that came to Brazil - a country in need of hospitals, schools and improved transport - with the World Cup.

Jaguaribe stated that of the 25 billion Reals spent, "75% is in infrastructure…things that are important, that need to be done. Things like communications, insurance, safety, transportation and many other things that are important for Brazil."

Much criticism has been pointed towards the stadiums which the government assures will be used in future.

In Manaus, a stadium in the middle of the rainforest with 45,000 capacity has created worries of a "white elephant," a building that may never be used again.

"Do you think a city of two million people can handle a stadium of 45,000 or is it excessive? Well I think it's not excessive."

"The big exaggeration is to make use of the World Cup to highlight problems that we do have but are not really related to football."

Finally, Amanpour asked for a sense of the importance of football to Brazil.

"For us, football is more than sport. Football is an anthropological quality of Brazil. It has been essential in the national integration of the country, very important in the social and cultural integration and also as a redemption of some sort. Redemption from discrimination from poverty, but also collective redemption from a perception of being worse than the rest."

Filed under:  Brazil • Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. daniela

    I am agree is the way to ignore the hunger! is a way to dream, for the extreme poverty tat hurts Brazil

    June 11, 2014 at 2:52 pm | Reply
    • Marcio

      You have to forgive me for saying this but there are reasons why Brazil goes through poverty... Most of the poverty that goes on today is because people don't want to work. Brazil has many jobs today as well as a big portion of empty land. People don't want to grow things to feed their family, they don't want to do anything. All they want is to complain and wait to be fed. They want the easy life.

      June 12, 2014 at 7:50 pm | Reply
  2. cosipa

    Amanpour asked a lot of good questions about the real impact of this very expensive event. The main problem is not the event itself, but the costs behind it, hidding a gigantic effort to reelect a sort of unpopular leader who strives to remain in power at all costs.

    June 13, 2014 at 2:29 pm | Reply
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