Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tim Vickery in South America

For much of Sunday in Rio de Janeiro, televisions in bars and restaurants were all showing the massive operation of security forces and their invasion of the Alemao group of favelas. By late afternoon, though, they had switched to coverage of the penultimate round of the Brazilian Championship. Viewers were transfixed by both.

It is fair to assume that there is a link between sport and Rio's latest outbreak of social violence. Last week, the drug lords staged a show of strength, setting fire to vehicles all over the city. It is conceivable that this action was planned to coincide with Rio's staging of the Soccerex conference and trade fair, which aimed to give a kick-start to Brazil's hosting of the 2014 World Cup and the Rio Olympics two years later.

With the global focus on Rio and Brazil, the scenes of widespread disorder were an embarrassment for the local authorities, who hit back with a show of strength of their own, one which may have been stronger than the drug lords had bargained for.

The football fan who thinks of coming to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup may well be having second thoughts. He or she might be wondering whether this place is safe. The obvious answer is no.

No comments: