2012-03-05

Brazil’s Security Concerns Rise as 2014 FIFA World Cup Approaches

A Brazilian policeman stands guard near the Maracanã stadium during a June 2011 anti-drug operation in Rio de Janeiro’s Mangueira slum. [Reuters/Ricardo Moraes]

A Brazilian policeman stands guard near the Maracanã stadium during a June 2011 anti-drug operation in Rio de Janeiro’s Mangueira slum. [Reuters/Ricardo Moraes]

Analysis By Paulo Rebêlo

BRASÍLIA — The head of the Federal Police in São Paulo is preparing his officers for Brazil’s upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup. South America’s largest country has never had to deal with a major terrorist attack and officially dismisses the existence of terrorists within its borders.

But Roberto Troncon Filho told Brazil’s largest daily newspaper that the World Cup will present local authorities in a dozen cities with unique safety challenges.

“In Brazil, the [threat] level is very low, but an event like the World Cup can provide the opportunity for an attack, not against the Brazilian people, but against an international delegation,” Troncon told Folha de S. Paulo in a recent interview.

The month-long event, scheduled for June 12 to July 13, 2014, will mark only the second time in history that soccer’s most important tournament has taken place in Brazil; the first time was back in 1950.

Twelve Brazilian cities were selected as World Cup venues out of the 17 that applied. The 12 are Belo Horizonte, Brasília, Cuiabá, Curitiba, Fortaleza, Manaus, Natal, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and São Paulo. Targeted infrastructure initiatives in the host cities represent an investment of nearly $8.4 billion, with new stadiums being built in Natal, Recife and Salvador.

In addition to hosting the World Cup, Brazil will be home to the 2016 Summer Olympics. “In these occasions, the Federal Police believe there is a unique risk and we want to prepare ourselves for a scenario in which the risk would be fairly elevated,” Troncon said.

World Military Games saw no security issues

Indeed, last year Rio de Janeiro hosted the Fifth CISM World Military Games, which attracted some 7,000 athletes from more than 100 countries competing in 23 sports. Even though infrastructure and financial problems arose, the Military Games went off without any security issues or threats against public safety.

Brazil has historically been hesitant to acknowledge the possibility of terror, and it has yet to adopt any anti-terror laws. For this reason, suspects can only be prosecuted on charges such as racism, racketeering and inciting criminal activity; they cannot be deemed terrorists, according to Brazilian law. In addition, Brazil does not consider Hezbollah, Hamas or the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia (FARC) to be terrorist organizations.

As the nation prepared to bid for the 2016 Olympics, top officials cited the lack of terrorist threats as an advantage over the three other cities shortlisted for the Games: Chicago, Madrid and Tokyo. Then-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said at the time: “We don’t have attacks. We don’t have bombs.”

Analyst: Risk to Brazilian citizens overrated

André Luís Woloszyn, an intelligence analyst and criminology consultant, said the Arab-Israeli conflict, tensions between the United States and Iran, and collateral effects of the so-called “Arab Spring” uprising all boost the likelihood of a terrorist attack during the 2014 World Cup.

“Germany was not a target during the Munich [Olympic] massacre in 1972, but that didn’t stop the attack from happening,” said Woloszyn. He noted that the only way to avoid a terrorist attack in Brazil would be a coordinated international effort involving the authorities of many countries. “Leaving the responsibility solely to our Federal Police and federal government is not an option. Hopefully, everyone involved is aware of that.”

Brazil’s government recently launched the World Cup 2014 Portal, a website that provides the latest news and information about the event. Despite the lack of public details, an official statement from the World Cup Security Chamber says that “the security strategy includes the adoption of international procedures and the creation of control and command centers, which will be coordinated by a set of local, state and federal law enforcement.”

FIFA’s general secretary, Jérôme Valcke, has already told the press that “Brazil will be responsible for the damages and financial loss from natural disasters and security-related issues” — a statement not taken lightly by some local politicians. He said, however, that “we [FIFA and Brazil] are working together” on preparing the country for the extravaganza.

There’s also a fear that Brazilian drug lords and criminal gangs could take advantage of the World Cup to stage attacks against celebrities and regular citizens alike. With the soccer games drawing huge crowds of people to stadiums, most police officers will be focusing their attention on parking garages, shopping malls, airports and hotels.

Despite some disagreements among think tanks in Brazil and abroad, all agree that the first step in letting an act of terrorism strike Brazilian soil is to not seriously consider that such a thing may happen.

Towards that end, Regis Fichtner, staff secretary of the state government of Rio de Janeiro, said in an official note released to the public that security is a “top priority” in the state’s efforts to make the city of Rio “a safe and prosperous place.”

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24 Comments

  • eduardo | 2012-09-11

    May God bless you

  • samuel tello | 2012-09-10

    Very cool

  • Rocio | 2012-09-08

    Well whatever they say, these friends are crazy, there are large teams or famous but they cannot win all the games. I can tell you that where I live I see guys better than them and play well, so very soon you will see them playing for important teams. Even the most important teams have their weaknesses. You cannot declare victory. This country does not classify since 1986. They are getting ready. There is no media informing them secretly. If all are prepared to win, then that the best team wins. That is the best. I can encourage all countries. There are countries that have already taken part in a World Cup and they know how is this. Those that have not classified to a World Cup, must prepare their children, this is better. Good luck to everybody. Brazil will host one of the better World Cups. I would like to see Peru. During the last World Cup they were fearful. In order to take part in a World Cup you must have courage and endurance. You must love your country and your people. We will see each other on another occasion.

  • Tincho | 2012-09-04

    I think with common sense equal and rational, not like everyone else, everything will be a big party, the more publicity more promotion of insecurity, everything happened in a minor or major scale. Brazil is a stunning country from every point of view. Its culture, its creeds, its devotion to the national soccer team, its charisma, its colorful Carnival. This is going to be reflected in those days of passion and delivery, but let us not forget that we in Argentina have a lot of desire of glory, and regardless of what the others say, I love the participation of ARGENTINA in a World Cup of this transcendence. We are and will always be formidable competitor for any opponent. The team is assembled and the fellowship is felt and smelled. We only we have to let it flow! BARK THOSE WHO BARK OTHERS...

  • sanonbilly | 2012-08-20

    I am a Haitian. Brazil is my team all life long

  • camilo | 2012-08-13

    This is a cool game.

  • marwuin | 2012-08-09

    Well, I bet that in 2014 Argentina will be champion.

  • daniel vela vargas | 2012-08-07

    The game has to see that you play while watching you as food for them.

  • edgardo alexis | 2012-07-24

    Well, in this game everyone knows that inertia makes things possible. It is for this reason that no one knows who will win. Thank you.

  • lionel messi | 2012-07-24

    Well, this is your friend talking to you, and I can tell you that for the World Championship I will give all of me. We will be the best and there will be a rain of goals from me, the best in the world. I promise you beat all teams and continue with my impressive streak. Greetings to all of you.

  • lionel messi | 2012-07-24

    Well, this is your friend talking to you, and I can tell you that for the World Championship I will give all of me. We will be the best and there will be a rain of goals from me, the best in the world. I promise you to beat all the teams and continue with my impressive streak. Greetings to all.

  • juan diego sampayo maldonado | 2012-07-22

    As coach of the Colombia national soccer team I will become rich forever and no one is going to take that out of me. That's what I dream to be.

  • cathi | 2012-07-18

    HOLD ON URUGUAY, WE WANT ANOTHER MARACANAZO.SO ARGENTINA IS GOING TO BE CHAMPION? YES YES. LET THEM CONTINUE PREPARING THE BAGS; IF THEY JUST HAVE MESSI. POOR MESSI, IT IS ALWAYS MESSI VS. URUGUAY AND WHO WINS? YOU CAN SEE THE LAST AMERICA'S CUP WHO IS THE OWNER? THE OWNERS OF AMERICA OF URUGUAY. POOR STUPID PORTENOS, THEY DID NOT EVEN END UP AS THE FIRST 4 IN THE WORLD. HAHAHA THEY EVEN DO NOT KNOW HOW TO BE COMPANIONS. THEY COMPARE BADLY WITH URUGUAY, THAT ARE ALL FRIENDS, YOU SEE.

  • anibal | 2012-07-17

    I want nothing with football

  • JUHOP | 2012-07-14

    EVERYTHING IS DANGEROUS WHEN THERE IS MUCH PUBLICITY

  • alan andres | 2012-07-14

    Nothing to say if you play good or bad

  • Débora Ferreira | 2012-07-10

    As a response to my friend Flip Salyer, to think before talking about Brazil.

  • fernando | 2012-07-08

    It seems to me that in the World Cup in Brazil, the winner will be Argentina! Hang in ther,Argentina and San Juan!

  • jesus daniel reyes salgado | 2012-07-05

    Well, we already know that Cristiano is better than Messi

  • adrian | 2012-07-04

    I like it

  • fredy | 2012-07-02

    Yesterday's football was very good

  • Ana leibis Peña | 2012-06-29

    Hello, how are you? I love the Brazil team. I watch every match. I am waiting for the World Cup to see them.

  • facundo | 2012-06-15

    Nothing to say, if you play good or bad

  • Flip Salyer | 2012-04-12

    Brazil's arrogance is astounding. Germany was'nt a target either. The whole world is going to be there, the whole world will be watching. What terroist feed on. Not to mention the favelas that are combat zones. fs