Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Rio Gunfight Sparks Brazil 2014 World Cup Security Concerns

(WFI) Brazil 2014 World Cup organisers have offered reassurances to FIFA that urban violence will not threaten the safety of the tournament following a gunfight in Rio de Janeiro at the weekend.

Ten gunmen took 30 people hostage at a luxury beachside hotel, then exchanged fire with police for hours before surrendering.

Ricardo Teixeira, president of the Brazil 2014 organising committee, said he was confident in the efforts being undertaken by the State of Rio de Janeiro to combat urban violence.

In a statement on Monday, Teixeira said he had "the utmost confidence in the power of planning, prevention and combating violence that is being led by Governor Sérgio Cabral and his security secretary Jose Mariano Beltrame".

"I can assure the sports community that the host city of Rio de Janeiro in 2014 will have the climate of normality necessary during the World Cup," said Teixeira, who is also president of the Brazilian football confederation.

Rio is also staging the 2016 Olympics. IOC spokeswoman Emmanuelle Moreau told BBC Brazil that the Brazilian city had a history of safely hosting large events, and Saturday’s gunfight did not change that. Moreau said the IOC had full confidence in Brazil’s ability to host a safe Olympics, restating comments made by its evaluation commission when inspecting Rio’s candidacy last April.

Brazilian authorities launched an aggressive campaign last year to invade Rio’s slums, drive out drug gangs and leave behind a police presence. About 10 slums are now free of gangs, the Associated Press reported.

Brazilian police will today hold their first security simulation ahead of the 2014 World Cup.

Special police units will reportedly be brought together at Sao Paulo's Pacaembu stadium, home of Corinthians football team. The security drill will include testing of crime-fighting technology such as cameras and facial biometrics systems, according to a Xinhua report.

Brazil is staging the World Cup in 12 cities.

On Monday, Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva urged Sao Paulo authorities to revive talks with FIFA to find a way for the Morumbi Stadium to be part of the World Cup.

Earlier this year, Morumbi Stadium was dropped from Brazil's list of proposed host stadia due to lack of financial guarantees for renovations to meet FIFA requirements.

"I cannot imagine a World Cup in Brazil without Sao Paulo. After the elections we will sit down with the new governor, the new president and the minister Orlando Silvato to fix this," president Lula was quoted by Globoesporte. "I support a stadium in Sao Paulo."

Last month, Sao Paulo mayor Gilberto Kassab told INSIDER he hoped to persuade FIFA to back new plans to modernise Morumbi Stadium to ensure South America's largest city played a part in the Brazil 2014 World Cup.

"We are asking FIFA to realise Morumbi Stadium as a new stadium in Sao Paulo," Kassab told INSIDER in Johannesburg at the 2014 World Cup logo launch. "I am optimistic that FIFA is going to approve proposals of how Morumbi can be renovated."

A delegation from FIFA is expected to visit Brazil in September for a check-up on 2014 preparations when more will be revealed about the Sao Paulo stadium project.

Last month, Brazilian sports minister Orlando Silva hit back at criticisms over his country’s delayed preparations for the 2014 World Cup. In May, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke said he was “amazed” at the slow pace of change.

Silva said that FIFA would be “surprised” by Brazil’s preparations when it becomes more closely engaged with the 2014 organizers.

By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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