Yet more unrest in Rio de Janeiro ahead of the FIFA World Cup in June has caused a new wave of concern for football’s governing body, as well as the millions set to descend upon Brazil for the summer tournament.
The latest flashpoint is associated with the death of a young male dancer named Douglas Rafael, who was allegedly beaten to death by Rio police. The man was apparently attacked after they mistakenly identified him as a drug dealer, and in the confusion that followed a 12 year old boy was also shot and wounded.
All tourist areas of Copacabana were shut down as burning cars and tyres lit up the Rio sky and a mob of angry protesters descended upon a police station. The initial stand-off didn’t last for long and escalated as clashes continued throughout the night with numerous gun shots being heard throughout the city.
Many favelas within Rio are managed by heavily armed drugs gangs, and in an attempt to drive them away before the world descends upon the city, police have been accused of heavy handedness and tactical naivety relating to the operation. Amnesty International claims that over 2,000 people per year lose their lives in Rio due to police violence.
The World Cup in Brazil has been fraught with controversy since the award of the tournament. The poverty stricken population marched in protest at the amount of money being spent on bringing the tournament to their country when they were struggling to find clean water, food or clothing for their children. Again, these protest descended into violence. The safety of workers building the stadia to be used in the competition has also been under the spotlight, as well as the fact that many of the new sites are running over budget and behind schedule.
Safety a Concern
With so many tourists set to enter the country in under 2 months, advice has been published relating to the safest way of navigating the country. People are well advised to stay on the ‘beaten-track’ and only move within groups of large people. Always leave phones and money in the hotel where possible and avoid the over use of alcohol. For football fans, some of these points will no doubt be easier to follow than others.