Brazil’s workers’ movement calls off World Cup protests

The Homeless Workers’ Movement, a mainstay of the anti-World Cup demonstrations that have shaken Brazil in recent months, has reached a deal with authorities not to protest during the tournament.

The group said that in exchange for a promise not to take to the streets it had extracted key concessions from authorities, including a pledge to build houses on land the movement illegally occupied last month near the São Paulo stadium that will host Thursday’s kick-off. 

“The movement isn’t against the Cup. We don’t have the slightest intention of interfering. We won’t protest either against the Cup or during it,” spokesperson Jussara Basso told Agence France-Presse. 

Authorities have also agreed to give the movement’s members priority access to a federal housing programme called “My House, My Life”, a government website confirmed. The deal was worked out with local and state authorities in São Paulo and the federal government in Brasilia. 

Thousands of movement families have set up a tent city in São Paulo just a few kilometres from Corinthians Arena, baptising their squatter camp the “People’s Cup”. 

The movement had also been a key player in broader protests against the more than $11-billion being spent on the World Cup, saying it should have been used to address pressing needs in housing, education, health and transport. 

Blatter’s predictions of the Cup
Meanwhile, Fifa president Sepp Blatter predicted on Tuesday that the World Cup will be “a great event” for Brazil, which can unite the world. 

“What is uniting us today and tomorrow and in the next month is the love of this beautiful game,” Blatter said, addressing guests and football leaders to open Fifa’s annual congress. 

“They [fans] want to be here, they want to live this fiesta,” the Fifa boss said. Blatter did not mention Brazil’s difficulties preparing for the tournament at a cost of more than $11-billion. 

Brazil state president Dilma Rousseff missed Tuesday’s ceremonial event but plans to attend the opening Brazil-Croatia match in São Paulo on Thursday. Linking himself to Rousseff, Blatter said: “Together we have said this World Cup shall be a great event, not only for Brazil but for the world.” 

‘Worked hard for the Cup’
Brazil Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo said the country offered “modern and functional facilities”. 

“We have worked hard for the Cup and we hope to win it,” Rebelo said through a translator. “Even though [football] was invented by another people, it has acquired the state of art in Brazil.” On a difficult day for Blatter, he faced his so-called “football family” hours after European officials urged him not to seek re-election. 

Uefa board members told Blatter he should take responsibility for scandals and negative headlines damaging Fifa and world football, and leave office next year. 

Blatter insisted “we are in a festive mood”, and that “discussions” could wait for Wednesday’s formal business. “We will discuss it tomorrow and, if there are any problems, perhaps we can solve them tonight,” said Blatter, who will seek support from the 209 member countries to be a candidate in the presidential contest next May. – AFP; Sapa-AP

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