COMMENTARY | The daily protests that are occurring throughout Brazil are seemingly not going away anytime soon. A San Francisco Chronicle report claimed that 300,000 individuals upset about corruption in the country's government and also about the amount of money spent on marquee events such as the 2013 Confederations Cup, 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics protested in Rio de Janeiro, a city hosting Confederations Cup matches, on Thursday night. It has been reported by multiple outlets that over 1 million people took to the streets around the country on that same evening.
Protests that may start non-violently are getting out of hand and fast. People are being assaulted. Football journalist and broadcaster Adrian Durham was mugged after the England vs. Brazil friendly that occurred at the beginning of June. It is an understatement to suggest that there are serious safety concerns in areas that will, a year from this time, be filled with thousands upon thousands of fans from various countries.
A Reuters story posted on the FourFourTwo.com website on Friday claimed, citing local media sources, that upcoming Confederations Cup matches could be postponed, and also that the eight-team tournament could be "in danger." Rumors that a certain amount of 2014 World Cup games could be moved to the United States because of safety worries inside and outside of stadiums are also growing with each day. Ancelmo Gois of O Globo, a newspaper out of Rio, wrote the following on that very subject:
"It could be exaggerations but some members of Brazil's Football Confederation fear the [World] Cup will be transferred to the USA due to the protests. Firms who have heavily invested in marketing the Confederation Cup are desolate. The protests have destroyed their possible markets."
Whispers of World Cup games being moved from Brazil to the US arose in 2012 when numerous publications reported that stadiums being prepped for that competition may not be ready by 2014. The violence that has occurred in the country since even before the start of the Confederations Cup is, according to one source with knowledge, a different animal entirely. "There are several reports of footballers being robbed and fans being mugged," I was told. "What possible incentive would an athlete on £100k per week have to put himself in such a situation?"
The idea, as was explained to me, is that there are plenty of markets/venues in the US that could quick-prep for World Cup games in under six months if absolutely necessary; Cowboys Stadium and MetLife Stadium to name two. College towns could even be called into action if larger cities are unable to house squads and the thousands of fans that would descend upon a given area if World Cup matches were relocated.
"Think about State College, PA, for example," I was told. "That town has plenty of lodging June through July, an airport, and a stadium that can seat over 100,000 fans. The idea that the US would be unable to schedule a 'last minute' tournament the magnitude of the World Cup is absurd."
It's worth pointing out that everything written and said about this matter is only speculation at this stage of the game. The Molotov cocktails being thrown at police and at buildings could go away sooner than later. Hundreds of thousands of protesters could decide that it's just not worth it and remain in their homes. FIFA may choose to not back down and carry through with current plans regardless of all that is going down throughout Brazilian cities. What's important, as far as American supporters are concerned, is that the US will be ready to lend a hand if asked.
We'll be ready and waiting, FIFA, with open arms.
Zac has been covering Tottenham Hotspur, Major League Soccer, New York Red Bulls, the USMNT and other soccer leagues for Yahoo! Sports since 2010.
- Sports & Recreation
- 2014 World Cup