In less than 230 days from now, the opening kick-off for next World Cup will take place at 1700 hrs. local time, on June 12, 2014 in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city. World’s greatest football show will continue to enthrall soccer fans around the world until July 13, when the final game is played at 1600 hrs. in Rio de Janeiro’s Marcana stadium. Other than Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, world cup matches will also be held in Brasilia, Fortaleza, Natal, Salvador and 6 other venues across Brazil. Just as people in the Indian subcontinent cling to cricket, football is a religion in Brazil. All their stadiums have huge capacities; with the smallest one able to accommodate 41000 spectators, while Mercana, where the final has been scheduled, has a capacity of over 78000.
In any case, the World Cup will be a fabulous event with Brazil having the home advantage. Argentina is another determined team and huge sections in the crowd will be filled with supporting fans from the neighborhood. Then you have Ecuador and also Uruguay, if they could beat Jordan in play-offs. If Ghana comes through, one can see their powerful performance. As for Europe, there will be Spain, Germany and Italy all capable of reaching the latter stages. One of the dark horses in the World Cup could be Belgium. They only need to acclimatize themselves and feel confident. Moreover, Belgians have the advantage of youth, despite having emerged out of nowhere.
But the FIFA World Cup is not the only event, which the Brazilian authorities are worried about. They are also hosting the 2016 Olympic Games, which require very elaborate preparations. Since the football is an average Brazilian’s life-blood, the focus these days is squarely on football World Cup. Hotel rates in the 12 cities, during World Cup, have already jumped to about 600%, while airline tickets are dearer by up to 10 times. The same thing is happening in the cases of restaurant menus and other tourist services. Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff, has recently formed a committee for monitoring abusive price hikes by such establishments. The president says she doesn’t want Brazil to be seen in a bad light. The committee comprising of officials from important ministries will be tasked with supervising prices at hotels, restaurants, airports and of other tourist services that are expected to be in high demand during the World Cup in Brazil’s 12 host cities. The president’s Chief of Staff, Gleisi Hoffman will supervise the committee’s meetings and its activities. Ms. Hoffman said in a statement that the committee does not want to set prices, but it won’t tolerate deliberate abuses. She further added that government will use all its power to defend the rights of consumers, whether they are locals or tourists.
With two important global sporting events to be managed in a space of less than three years, the Brazilian Government must be under severe pressure. It is really commendable that women are at the helm of the affairs and they are facing tough challenges. Not just President Dilma Rousseff and Head of Civil Cabinet Gleisi Hoffman, there are other women who have been entrusted with the task of first managing the football World Cup and then focus on the preparation of the 2016 Olympic Games. On these women depends the success of these major sporting events in Brazil.
One of them is Martha Mesquita da Rocha, the first woman Police Chief of Rio de Janeiro since February 2011. She took up the crucial position in the wake of a large-scale suspension of corrupt police officers. Also in Rio de Janeiro, there are two other police officials, Vanessa Coimbra, a smart technically sound officer and a brave woman police inspector, Monique Vidal, who manages five different units.
Brazil, allegedly, is also one of world’s most crime-ridden countries and each big city has its own favelas or slums, under the control of drug lords. The favelas have been in existence for a long-long time and all types of crimes take place there. During 1978 and 2000, there were more murders in Rio than whole of Colombia, another South American country, inflicted with the drug culture. There were times when, residents of favelas of Rio needed permission from drug-gangs to move from their homes. Police and military were compromised by organized crime. Arrival of Martha Rocha as Police Chief, thus, signified a major shake-down. Then came a series of Pacification Programs with the aim of clearing the favelas from drug mafia. The last program was undertaken in the first week of this month. It was Rio de Janeiro’s 35th favela pacification operation aimed at clearing the drug gangs from 12 shanty towns. There were some casualties but, by and large, the operation met with success under Martha Mesquita da Rocha.
The women in different positions in Brazilian administration are going to have a great role to play in making the world cup and Olympics free from any major incident and hold the country’s honor. They need to be revered by the entire world community.