Dossier: World cup for whom? World cup for what?

Dossier: World Cup for whom? World Cup for what?

Demonstration in São Paulo end of March 2014. Photo: Mídia NINJA. Creative Commons License LogoThis image is licensed under Creative Commons License.

Hosting the FIFA World Cup focuses the world's attention on the host country and lends the promise of economic and social gains, all enveloped in a charged atmosphere of football emotion. But for the first time in history, a multitude of questions are being raised about the real meaning of an international mega-event for the host population. Reflecting on these issues and the much discussed question in Brazil of "Cup for whom?," the Heinrich Böll Foundation and invited journalists and specialists have put their analyses together in this dossier. News items, articles, maps, photos, and videos show how the actions of FIFA, governments, and sponsors are increasingly commercializing public spaces in Brazil, using the justification that Brazilians will reap future benefits for hosting the World Cup.

Some articles show that Brazil will host the most expensive World Cup of all time. Around 85 percent of the expenses will be funded with public money, which is in stark contrast to what former President Lula da Silva asserted when he promised that everything would be "footed" by private investors. The World Cup preparations have also affected the critical Brazilian housing issue. Many of the large projects linked to urban mobility remain unfinished and have resulted in the transfer of 200,000 people, according to data from Ancop (National Coordination of the Cup Popular Committees). The courts and the growing militarization of police units, which see protesting as a crime, are also documented in articles, in addition to essays that analyze the investments made in mega-events as being an essential part of the country's current development model.

This web dossier was designed for an international public, since it is already available online in German and Portuguese. The Brazil office of the Heinrich Böll Foundation believes that these analyses add relevant data regarding the guarantee of people's rights as well as offer reflections for those looking for critical perspectives about the realities on the ground.

Public Demonstrations

The sign says: "If your child is sick, take her/him to a stadium"

According to the National Movement of the Popular Committees of the Cup 170,000 people are affected by evictions and lost their homes. Despite international standards for forced removals which are recognized in the Brazlian law, a majority of the affected will not be compensated adequately.

Protesters raising their voices against the expensive cable car for tourists while demanding the completion of all the sanitation work in the Rocinha slum in June 2013

On the night of June 25, 2013, at least 1,000 residents of the Rocinha slum, south of Rio de Janeiro, gathered to protest. They demanded the completion of all the sanitation work in their neighbourhood, instead of an expensive transportation system for tourists.

Tournament logo "Copa Popular"

Brazilian athletes and activists choose sport trainings as a form of creative protest. They want to call attention to the dismal training conditions for the mega-event and they demonstrate: sport is more than a commercial spectacle.

Violations of the Right to Housing

"We want fair compensation payments" this notice says in the neighbourhood of Campinho in the North of Rio de Janeiro

In this interview professor Orlando Alves dos Santos Júnior (Research Institute of Urban and Regional Planning at Rio de Janeiro University), talks about the violations against citizen's rights that are happening in Brazil.

Graffitti on a house in Belo Horizonte displaying how many families lost their homes due to construction projects for the World Cup

The burden for Brazil's costly stadiums is mainly carried by the habitants of the poorest neighborhoods, the favelas. That the habitants generally had little or no formal education and were insufficiently informed of their rights was exploited by the authorities.

Location of the extinct community of Campinho

Antonieta Rodriguês is a former resident of Campinho, a community located in Madureira, north of Rio de Janeiro City. The woman lost her home and is now engaging against the removals and the injustices arising from the construction works.

Cartoon criticizing the eviction practice

One the most symbolic cases of Brazil's protest movements against relocation, was the resistance of Vila Autódromo. The historical fight of the community located in the west of Rio de Janeiro, enormously spread around the country.

Public Security


When created by the end of 2008, the Pacifying Police Units (UPP) was labeled as “unique police force model and came with the promise of a radical change in the state public safety policies".


In January 2011, Elisângela Sena, resident of Pavão-Pavãozinho hillside in Rio de Janeiro, had her house demolished. The mini documentary "We Are the Legacy: Elisângela’s Story," by Comitê Popular, shows another case of a mandatory transfer of a resident tied to the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games. With no financial compensation or resettlement payment, Elisângela lost her job and the possibility to live close to her daughter.

The animation "Look at how Brazil prepares for the Cup," from the North American NGO Witness, is part of a campaign against the mandatory transfer of communities and takes a critical look at how the governments and the entrepreneurs disrespect people's right to housing.

More videos with interviews and reports on Witness' Forced-Evictions channel.

Financing and Costs of the World Cup

Maracanã stadium

The Four Sisters, Brazils largest construction companies, are the big donors to political campaigns. And also they are the big winners, as a study showed: for every dollar donated the companies recieved 6.5 half dollars back in public works contracts.

cover world cuo for whom and for what

Taking a look upon the legacy of the World Cups in Brazil, South Africa and Germany this publication gives detailed information about the financial, political and social impact of the mega-event. 

Graffitti spotted at São Paulo's 8th "Não Vai Ter Copa" World Cup Protest, May 24, 2014

One question that concerns many Brazilians is about the true cost of the 2014 World Cup. The data gathered by the NGO PACS shows where investment money for the World Cup comes from and where it is going. It proofs how companies profit from billions of public money.

Cities where the German team will play - Fortaleza, Salvador and Recife

Protesters in Fortaleza, February 2012

Under the justification that a huge aquarium would increase tourism, more than US$126.8 million were spent on the Acquário Ceará in Fortaleza. A questionable project for a city in which 43 percent of the inhabitants don't even have a sewage disposal system.

Urban demolition works in the streets of Recife paving the ground for the construction of a new stadium and a real estate mega-project "World Cup Village"

The rural community of São Lourenço in Recife was chosen as the place for the construction of a stadium and a real estate mega-project named World Cup Village. Hundreds of families were transferred without any alternatives or financial compensation.


Even though Recife holds the most remote stadium built for the World Cup, thousands of people were evicted from their homes. Activist Rudrigo Rafael explains how the government ignores human rights and why development projects in Recife are killing jobs.

Environmental Protection

Construction site of the stadium Mané Garrincha

The Brazilian government has planned a "sustainable World Cup". Great distances for the visitors and participants, and the immense construction works make it difficult to comply with the green agenda. Moreover: civil society actors have been largely ignored by the government initiative.

Women and World Cup

Women demonstrating in Brasilia. The message on the placard says: "The world isn't a commodity, so aren't women"

Analysts believe that the sex market will be very active during the World Cup. In Brazil, prostitution is not a crime, but it is not regulated as a profession either.

Women at the seminar "World Cup 2014 – What Role do Women Play?" in Salvador (Bahia)

Elisangela's story is one among many of women heads of families who live in favelas of Brazilian cities, and who are suffering with the forced removals being carried out give way to World Cup-related construction works. Marilene de Paula tells her story.

Jean Wyllys

In this interview Jean Wyllys answers questions about the bill he introduced and that shall regulate the work of sex workers. He makes clear why prostitutes should have a minimum guaranteed salary.

Will you go to the World Cup?

The video "No, I’m not going to the World Cup" by Carla Dauden, a 23-year-old Brazilian woman who lives in Los Angeles (California), is extremely popular on the internet, having received four million hits. The video questions the Cup's legacy, the excessive expenses on infrastructure, the mandatory population transfers, the substandard health system, and police brutality.

When the large demonstrations happened in June 2013, Carla uploaded a new video with the title: "Yes, you can still go to the World Cup – if...". In this second video, Carla continues her criticism while making numerous proposals on how to do better. She is conditioning going to Brazil with questions about the FIFA and the Brazilian government.


Protesters in Brasilia, June 2013

The Brazilian Congress and the authorities approved numerous exceptions to important democratic rules in the last five years to favor private interests. It is good that the Brazilian people defend themselves against it. Even if it is to protect football.

Web Dossier Team

Dawid Bartelt, Marilene de Paula and Manoela Vianna
Editorial Assistance:
Julia Ziesche, Karina Merencio, Lando Dämmer and Mara Natterer

Fal Azevedo, Marli Tolosa, Bruna Franco and Olivia Gilmore.
Dawid Bartelt, Email: Dawid Bartelt

The Foundation’s Latin America programmes are targeted at topics such as green sustainability, environmental protection, and democratic participation especially on the local and regional levels.