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Rio violence has left its mark

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Tim Vickery | 18:22 UK time, Monday, 29 November 2010

For much of Sunday in Rio de Janeiro, televisions in bars and restaurants were all showing the massive operation of security forces and their invasion of the Alemao group of favelas. By late afternoon, though, they had switched to coverage of the penultimate round of the Brazilian Championship. Viewers were transfixed by both.

It is fair to assume that there is a link between sport and Rio's latest outbreak of social violence. Last week, the drug lords staged a show of strength, setting fire to vehicles all over the city. It is conceivable that this action was planned to coincide with Rio's staging of the Soccerex conference and trade fair, which aimed to give a kick-start to Brazil's hosting of the 2014 World Cup and the Rio Olympics two years later.

With the global focus on Rio and Brazil, the scenes of widespread disorder were an embarrassment for the local authorities, who hit back with a show of strength of their own, one which may have been stronger than the drug lords had bargained for.

The huge and strategically important Alemao group of favelas were wrested from the control of the drug lords, although all concerned are aware it will take more than one operation to combat a problem that has been allowed to fester in Rio for decades.

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The football fan who thinks of coming to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup may well be having second thoughts. He or she might be wondering whether this place is safe. The obvious answer is no.

In big city Brazil - and certainly in Rio - most residents have their own nightmare story. Mine is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

I was coming away from a big match at Vasco da Gama's stadium. It was nearly one o'clock at night, the match had finished some time ago and the crowds were dwindling. I went to catch a bus aware that, relatively well dressed and carrying a bag, I was offering a target yet not feeling unduly worried. It was something I had done many times.

On this occasion, though, a couple of buses refused to stop. Stupidly, I sat down - with my back open to the area behind me. What followed seemed to take place in slow motion.

I first felt a tug from behind. I remember thinking that it was probably someone wanting to know the time and being rude about it. I turned to face the truth. Two men in balaclavas.

Soldiers on alert in Rio after the outbreak of violenceSoldiers on alert in Rio after the outbreak of recent violence. Photo: Getty Images

For some reason, I still thought I could get away. I tried to pull myself forward as they dragged me back. I turned to some people close by and cried for help. They ran away. It was the correct thing to do - they had seen the gun.

The two of them then pushed me forward and I fell to the ground. One of them cracked his fist against my nose and I turned round to see that the other was pointing a huge pistol at my head.

"You're going to die," he said. Hand it over time. Watch, wallet, bag - small, bigger, biggest. I did not give him my mobile phone - they were new and expensive at the time. A foolish risk but I got away with it.

"Stand up, don't look back, cross the road," he said. I did as I was told and wandered away in the knowledge that I had been lucky, although things would never be quite the same again.

It is one thing to know on a theoretical basis that you are in a place where life is cheap. It is another to look into the eyes of your assailant and receive total conviction that for him pulling the trigger has no more moral complications that ripping the lid off a can of beer.

Of course, all cities have problems. And going through one bad moment, plus a couple of minor ones, is not unreasonable given the fact that I have been here for 16 years. But what sets this place apart is the degree of brutality, the lack of respect for life. Social inequality, family breakdown and wars between rival drug factions have produced a society that can be brutal and brutalising.

This, of course, is a huge problem for the city's population. However, I do not necessarily think it will be so for the fans who visit for the 2014 World Cup or the 2016 Olympics.

A bus goes up in flames in RioA bus goes up in flames in Rio. Photo: Reuters

"We are great at events," wrote Brazilian security specialist Luiz Eduardo Soares in his blog. "In these moments, there is money available, the spirit of co-operation prevails and rational, planned steps are taken. Our Achilles heel is the routine. The World Cup and the Olympics will be a success. The problem is the day by day."

He is surely correct. Indeed, it could even be that success in combating the drug traffic will lead to more of the kind of random street crime that I suffered. A drug dealer pushed out of business is unlikely to look for work as an office boy.

But when it comes to mega events such as 2014 or 2016, the authorities will put on a massive show of strength and the visitor will be protected.

Some of the images from Rio over the past few days are striking, shocking and scary. But, for what it is worth, my view is this: the drug traffickers may have tried to transmit the opposite message but no-one should be put off coming to the 2014 World Cup for fear of social violence.

Comments on the piece in the space below. Questions on South American football to, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.

From last week's postbag:

Q) I have a question that I have been thinking about since the 2014 World Cup stadiums were named. Could a team possibly play a match at Porto Alegre then another match in Manaus just a few days later? I have spent a fair bit of my life in Manaus. Temperatures are nearly always in the 30s and the main problem there is the humidity. As Manaus is equatorial, there is no real summer or winter as we know it but, during the tournament, Porto Alegre in the south will be in winter. I have watched games on TV where the fans are wearing hats and scarves. Has it been addressed how it would be unreasonable to expect a team to possibly play in cool temperatures in the south, then have to acclimatise to hot and humid temperatures for a match a few days later, or vice versa?
Ian Stanley

A) I don't think it has been addressed and I share the view that this could be a real problem, especially as we are almost certain to go back to the old system where teams play all their group matches in one region. Those teams based in the south - Porto Alegre and Curitiba - may well be at a disadvantage. Temperatures will be low, so teams may experience a 30 degree difference up north - and not just to Manaus - for their first knockout game.

Q) I came across the wonderful story of Jack Greenwell the other day. What an amazing story and probably one of the most unheralded characters of the beautiful game. He had quite a career in South America, so I was wondering how he is regarded in that part of the world. I know he was around way before your time but is he still spoken about in South America? If not, that would be a great shame.
Aldoray Gordon

A) This is the tale of the English coach who, after working extensively in Spain, led Peru to triumph in the 1939 Copa America. To be honest, the South Americans seem a little embarrassed by the success of an Englishman in their midst.

The official history of the Copa America includes a small photo of Greenwell but the caption claims that the 1939 team was actually picked by a Peruvian director - a clear attempt to belittle the contribution of the coach. Given the success that Greenwell had already achieved both in Spain and Peru, I am unconvinced by this claim.


  • Comment number 1.

    Another top blog, an insightful read. I'm thinking the problems with tourists being mugged in Rio and Sao Paulo will be countered by a huge security presence, but you've pretty much already said that...

  • Comment number 2.

    Thanks for this Tim. I saw your name in some of the reports this week. Brazilian society is an incredibly complicated thing, and the existence and environment in the favelas is evidence of that. After seeing what has happened this week, I have been full of concern for all those lovely cariocas that I know. It is a great place, despite all these problems. I'll be there in the front row in 2014.

  • Comment number 3.

    tim, another fantastic blog-the best on this site in my opinion. fair do's for sharing such a horrible story with us all, fair play for at least managing to get it away with your mobile. do you still have it or has it long since been discarded? tim i would love to know about two players. the first is matias miribaje and the second a paraguayan called rodolfo gamarra. love to know some background on both. thanks

  • Comment number 4.

    Another excellent blog Tim as always. Thank you for sharing your story.

    I'm sure the events will have such high levels of security that they will go off fine, but the worry is, like you mentioned, the day to day and what happens afterwards. I don't think the crime would put me off attending had I been thinking about it (but alas, it is in the same year as the next Ashes tour which I plan on going to!)

    Hopefully having two major events so close together will give the whole population of Brazil something to believe in and lead to less people turning towards a life of crime.

  • Comment number 5.

    In Brazil they have "Favelas", en Argentina we have "Villas Miserias". The amazing thing is that they can be side by side with the poshest areas of the city.
    In Buenos Aires Recoleta is one of the poshest neighbouhoods of the city, visited by millions of tourists and its barely a stone's throw away from Villa 31, one of the biggest and most famous slums of the city.

    This picture is startling, Favela Paraisópolis in Sao Paulo, right next to a posh development where every flat has a private swimming pool on the balcony, tennis courts and the works. Its an amazing illustration of the inequality.

    As for tourists during the world cup, caution and sensible precautions will be essential. "Rich" toursits walking around with video cameras will be seen as fair game by some. Unless there are police on every single street there is bound to be some personal crime but hopefully visitors will be careful not to expose themselves to undue risks.

    The most worrying thing to me, and i dont want to sound alarmist, is the potential for trouble between the argentines and the english.
    Hopefully argentina will be put in the south, porto alegre or florianopolis, and england in the north (if they qualify!) so their paths wont cross.
    All the barras, the hooligan gangs from argentina will be in brazil, with all the hangers-on that means thousands of hardcore hooligans. A visit to an argentine forum is worrying, they are already plotting revenge against the english with relish. And whilst in the past they lived with "codes", these days anything goes. In the past there was a code of honour where hooligans would only attack hooligans, now they dont care, they'll attack anyone with impunity.
    I'm hoping the authorities look into this and provide measures to stop it happening.
    I know what im saying sounds extreme but it really worries me.

  • Comment number 6.

    Excellent Blog... I had a big smile reading it, I lived for 20 years in Medellin, I got mugged once, it was three blokes with a knife and it certainly leaves a bit of truma, another time I was leaving a Nacional - Millonarios match and was wearing a black tshirt, a load of boys came up to me and said "vos sos de millos gonorrea..." - "your a millos fan you gonnorea", so I had a Nacional membership card in my back pocket so I thought Id show it to them and be allright, as I reached for the card they all got a look of surprise and moved back suddenly, told me to get out and walked away... it dawned on me a few minutes later: they thought I was reaching for a knife...

  • Comment number 7.

    Sorry to hear about your frightening experience 10 years ago. I've had a couple of close escapes in Buenos Aires and a couple of vicious beatings in the north east of England but never anything as scary as a gun to the head.

    As for the problem of druglords and violence, it just isn't going to go away. The only sensible course of action would be to legalise all drugs and bring the trade under government regulation, however the west is completely allergic to the obvious solution so the billions will keep flowing into the bank accounts of the most ruthless and dangerous people in the world instead of into government coffers through drugs taxation.

    The idea that these gangs can be stamped out by force is a fallacy, just look at the last 30 years of Colombian history, the alarming levels of violence and death in Mexico (wan't Salvador Cabañas' shooting supposedly drugs related?) and on a smaller but no less deadly scale in Jamaica.

    When the police and security forces escalate the fight against the drug lords, they just have to increase their expenditure on weapons and "soldiers" by a small percentage of their huge profit margins and you have a full scale drugs war, not something that would be a good idea during a World Cup.

    However the security forces managed to keep the gangs in South Africa quiet for a month during the last World Cup so I'm pretty sure the authorities and the gang leaders will come to some kind of "agreement" to leave the football tourists alone in 2014.

  • Comment number 8.

    As the Olympics and the World Cup have become a great advert for a country there is a dirty underbelly to them ie. anyone who doesn't fit the corporate image the country is trying to portray is either banged up, beaten up or shipped out to the countryside.

    An increased police presence automatically leads to an increased crackdown on the people of the favela's (guilty or innocent); having witnessed police crackdowns from G8's to drug raids in the 'hood' when you give one group permission to lay the law down on another, you create an anything goes mentality, the ensuing police violence is then usually mirrored by an upsurge of street violence later on as power vacuums are filled, impoverished communities are still poor (only now beaten and poor) youth having witnessed the true power of the gun by police decide to realise some of that power themselves.

    As much as I respect your posts Tim, an increased security presence for the visitor means increased violence for the civilian particularly those from Brazil's most impoverished areas, is this what the Olympics and World Cup now stand for? Football is the people's game but now in order for us to watch it we have to have a multi-billion dollar crack unit of police protecting us from the communities that gave us Maradona and Pele. It's a funny old game.

  • Comment number 9.

    8 - i might be adopting a position which is hopelessly naive, but i am optimistic that something new is happening here - a mentality from the security forces which does not criminalise an entire community, but which instead seeks to win hearts and minds of residents and therefore seperate them from the drug traffic

    Obviously this is very early days.

    I was, though, a bit disappointed to see Rio governor Sergio Cabral descibe the action as a "territorial reconquest." There's no reconquest here - the state has never been present in this area , hence the power vaccuum filled by the drug traffic.

    Hopefully this was nothing more than a slip of the tongue, because perhaps there is now a historic opportunity for a new relationship between the state and the community.

  • Comment number 10.

    Hello, people! I am Brazilian and I think the 2014 World Cup will do very well for Brazil. I say this because the police operation that took place in Rio de Janeiro this week is getting better and life a lot of people who live there and the main objective of this of course was to improve our country, but the government would not invest heavily in it if there was no Cup world.
    This same operation was to improve people's lives in Rio de Janeiro, but it was mainly to ensure the safety of people who come to Brazil in 2014 World Cup and in 2016 for the Olympics, for that reason, I think the Cup World in Brazil will be very safe for everyone, as the government of Brazil is much better and the security here.
    Sorry if my English is not very good, and thanks to everyone here.

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    Hi Tim I'm currently traveling around S America and yesterday took in a Universidad game here in Chile. The only place we've experienced a problem is Rio where some guys threatened us with a knife in broad daylight on Copacabana beach, surely safety can't be guaranteed or at least feeling safe? The only solution for the WC is to base it in smaller better controlled cities surely? Great blog as always.

  • Comment number 13.

    Hi Tim, I too have enjoyed reading your articles this week with regard to what's been happening in Rio. I'm British but now live in Rio having moved here in July. From all the locals I've spoken to, I don't think you're alone in your cautious optimism. The cariocas (Rio locals) sense a change in the air, that this could be different from the past, half-hearted attempts. I've only been here a short while myself, but I share your optimism. As one of my (carioca) co-workers pointed out recently, the change is reflected in the fact that the ordinary people who live in the favelas have been supporting the police/army with food and water which didn't happen before. People have been surprised with how well things have gone (so far). By no means is this over, but people are starting to believe that this could be the start of meaningful change.

    To carr2k1987, I travelled Latin America for 11 months before settling here in Rio and was lucky enough not to get directly robbed once, but met plenty of people who were robbed at knifepoint - in Buenos Aires, in Bogota, in Santiago (amongst many other places) - and it's natural that something like this will colour your thoughts on a location. For you Rio will always be that place you got robbed (and fair enough, I know I'd feel the same). But no place can ever guarantee everyone's safety. As has been said already, Rio will probably be the safest place in South America when these huge events are being run. The real challenge will be to improve security for the everyday people in their day-to-day lives in the time *after* the games.

  • Comment number 14.

    A gringo in Rio with a backpack is a target to anyone. I am a student from the UK working in Rio as part of my Spanish and Portuguese course from Nottingham University. On my way home from work on Halloween (national elections day as well!) I was attacked as I was carrying a rucksack, not by bandits but by policemen who thought I would be carrying drugs. After a thorough search that revealed nothing except my salary from a weekend's work, they proceeded to ask for my money as a bribe to let me go. When I refused they put a gun in my face, threw me into their police car and took my money anyway, leaving me with just the money I needed to get home. They then offered to give me a bag of cocaine as a "no-hard-feelings-present" which I obviously refused. This incident is not isolated and reports emerging in the Brazilian press today about lootings by policemen in Complexo Alemao has done little to reassure me. As one of my friends pointed out, I may have been the first case of police corruption under the new president and I know for sure I will not be the last!

  • Comment number 15.

    It seems to me that these drug dealers are not long term planners. What better way to improve business than to have thousands upon thousands of tourists descending on you for a short, energetic month of hardcore partying?
    Surely, these drug dealers should be doing their best to get as many tourists as possible into town.

  • Comment number 16.


    If you look at the picture with the bus on fire.. the guy riding the bike has a tattoo of the Maracana i think

  • Comment number 17.

    I think similarities could be drawn between South Africa and this years world cup vs the current problems in Rio.

    The world is/was aware of the problems, they are localised and can be contained and tourists informed of the areas to visit and not to visit. If the WC was taking place in Mexico I would be worried, it is endemic and widespread and indescrimate ciolence there.

    All nations have to worry of pickpockets, thugs etc. It is up to the individual to make the right decision and be in the right place. If fans follow the event programmes and party where it is suggested by the organisers, crime will likely be low.

    That being said, I hope that they can resolve these issues, but I also hope that we do not see the type of press that we saw in the run up to this years world cup.

  • Comment number 18.

    As my wife is Brazilian and so are many of our friends, this story has been on our TV constantly for the past week or so. It really is as bad as it appears which is sad for a country steeped in such enviable footballing history and credentials.
    It's going to take a long time to sort the problem but the current government and the one due to replace it shortly have spent considerable time trying to deal with it the right way and i'm sure that will continue.
    Having been to Brazil many times, i sure hope they can fix what is an incredibly complex social issue.
    I will add that anybody catching a bus in Brazil on their own, especially after a football game is asking for trouble. Bus stops and bus stations after dark are also a no-no.
    It's clearly a 'fairness' and equality issue in Brazil as it is in many of the worlds under-developed countries.
    As 'fairness' is a word that the British public and government has been banging on about for a while now, it really puts things into perspective. There are problems to deal with here in the UK but anybody wallowing in self pity about being on the worng side of the fairness divide should take some time to view and understand the scale of the favelas throughout Brazil - Rio and Sao Paulo especially. We've got it good!

  • Comment number 19.

    It's good to be able to read comments from people who have more of an insight into these issues than I do. The thing that really bothers me is the guilty feeling that when the tournament is finished in a country that has these problems, areas will return to being unsafe, and very little of the income generated will make it into the hands of those who need it most. I'm also from Northern Ireland, and loathe the fact that I will probably never see one of our boys lift the World Cup. So I've come up with an idea...

    Every time the qualification finishes a recently retired manager is approached by FIFA to manage a squad of players selected from teams that did not qualify to be entered in the actual tournament. In the months approaching the tournament this team would play friendly matches against high-profile teams in various locations across the world, selling high priced tickets and lots of merchandise. All profit could be spent in poor areas of the host nation on things like schools and medicine, and those associated with the team would be rewarded with positive press and the chance to be involved in a World Cup. Any marketing type worth their salt would easily be able to milk the whole charity/fair play angle and generate lots of money.

    Just think about it; a manager of Ferguson's calibre in charge of a team of George Bests/Weahs, earning cash from some of the richest places in the world and giving it to the poorest, and everybody from underdog nations like my own being able to get behind a team instead of pinning our hopes on one of the big boys.

    What do you reckon about that?

  • Comment number 20.

    jcBelfast - nice idea but i cant see it ever happeneing. It needs somebody to champion the idea - somebody at the top of the game who's respected and who holds sway.

    If it did happen - the main issue you raised will still exist. All funds raised via this method would need to end up with those that need it most but the likely outcome is that it will end up in the hands of the government / local authorities anyway.

    The best way of distributing these funds is via well organised charities but these are expensive to set up and run. Chances are that, unless the governments of the countries concerned are going to pay those involved for their time, the money raised will end up being spent on those trying to distribute it – resulting in a dramatically reduced impact. People will then question the whole point!

  • Comment number 21.

    Whilst people exist in the world who to quote you, "It is another to look into the eyes of your assailant and receive total conviction that for him pulling the trigger has no more moral complications that ripping the lid off a can of beer."
    Whilst there are still people who can do this without conscience then we are stuffed, people like this, people who can behead others in Iraq, people who can act for regimes like the Pot one in Cambodia.
    It make the world cup kind of trivial but what else can we do but try to enjoy it. Like it or not mankind has sub species, it’s just not politically correct to say it

  • Comment number 22.

    Great blog again Tim.

    Whilst I can obviously only view such things from a distance, it does seem like a rapid attempt by the authorities to rectify what amounts to years of neglect through lack of involvement and presence within the poorer communities. But if there is a 'winning of hearts and minds' and any improvement for society overall, then perhaps this is one of the first 'benefits' from the World Cup? Or is that mindlessly optimistic?

    Bottom line: we live in an evil world - life is cheap everywhere. I'll be going to Brazil 2014 regardless.
    16. At 05:11am on 30 Nov 2010, Ricardo Esteves wrote:

    If you look at the picture with the bus on fire.. the guy riding the bike has a tattoo of the Maracana i think

    Love it! This post is more symbolic than you realise Ricardo! Let's ignore social unrest and disorder and focus on the important things; futebol!

  • Comment number 23.

    This article is not at a level one would expect from the BBC. Rio's armed forces are combating drug lords with the intention to make the city safe for foreigners. The fighting is not taking place in areas where tourists would normaly go. If it comes down to personal examples: I have a friend who is form Rio and lives in London, he was mugged in Camden Town and beaten up as was left in a coma for 3 weeks, is this a reason to question London's ability to host the Olympics??!!!

  • Comment number 24.

    Thanks for the constructive criticism MichaelR, I agree that it would be difficult to ensure money went into the right hands, and if it did it would still be impossible to convince everybody that it had! In response to your other points, I think that the game is riddled with politically minded people who have little need of money, and much need of good PR, who would jump at the chance to champion this type of project. I'm sure Mr Vickery might know one or two, but I unfortunately do not. Many of the large cities in the world have problems with poverty, corruption and crime, but these areas also often have active networks of charity and voluntary organizations that could highlight just who needs help the most.

    FoxGell has a point too though, we humans do belong to one of three sub-species; those who are very rich, those who are very poor, and the rest of us, who spend a lot of our time talking about the other two.

  • Comment number 25.

    Going in with guns blazing will only do so much.

    The real way to deal with the drug lords is to tackle the social inequality and poverty. The majority of people are not inclined to crime and often turn to it in desperation or are bought up with it as the norm.

  • Comment number 26.

    Hey jcBelfast... I like your idea, but as someone else said I think the fundamental problem is that FIFA wouldn't make any money and therefore, they probably wouldn’t give it the go-ahead.

    One thing I heard about a while back though which may interest you is the Homeless World Cup ( basically a world cup but played entirely by homeless people and the organisation is basically run as an international charity. I’m an avid supporter of it, and often wonder why FIFA don’t give it a bit more exposure at major footballing events. I mean they have so many sponsors; surely it would be no big deal to have a few HWC billboards put up...? I hope isn't too off-topic.

  • Comment number 27.

    When I was in Rio just over a year ago, the local drug gangs shot down a police helicopter!

  • Comment number 28.

    Very interesting blog, and several interesting comments.

    Does anyone know if there are significant differences between crime in Brazil and South Africa? (since the South African security forces seemed able to contain theirs this year, although I don't know if the way they achieved this was fair to the population in general or not)

    Is there more organised/gang/drug crime in Brazil than SAfrica? Will this be harder to control? Or is it the sort of crime that's unlikely to directly affect attending fans?

    And what about stadiums? I know this gets trotted out every time and is almost always resolved in time, but aren't there huge question marks over the Brazilian stadiums? Or is it too soon to draw any sort of conclusion?

  • Comment number 29.

    Sorry but, I lived 20 years in Australia and returned, because of family matters, to Brazil 18 months ago.
    Tourists are called TARGETS by the bandits.
    Every little kid on the streets wants to "score" a tourist.

    The police is inefficient, violent and make no distinction between victims and criminals. The violence is rampant, and NOT concentrated in favelas, there are constant (many times a day) robberies at gunpoint by drugged criminals on street lights! They break your window and ask for money ONCE and the minute after that you may be dead. It is not a safe place at all, so beware. Compare murder statistics with Bagdad, you may be better of with a 52" LCD 3D television for the world cup mate.

  • Comment number 30.

    Tim, I can sympathise with your story. I was held up twice in South America, once in Peru and once in Rio. The big difference between the two occasions was that the first time in Peru I never felt in danger. He looked more scared than me. The second time in Rio I reckoned that he was well prepared to act if I didn't do as he said. Scary stuff.

    (Incidentally, my South American girlfriend still disagrees with my reading of the situation and hasn't yet forgiven me for the loss of her handbag and the make-up within. The loss of my wallet doesn't seem to elicit any sympathy from her.)

    I would hope that all parties would get their act together for the whole 3 year sporting extravaganza in Brazil but I would share the worries of some of some earlier posters that a hard crackdown could have long term negative effects. Hopefully not.

  • Comment number 31.

    Speaking of security, what about the events at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix? Armed gunmen came for a car with i think Jensen Button inside? They JUST managed to speed away from their armed assailants. If the police can barely protect superstars, what hope do they have of protecting the public? This kind of thing is a big worry.

    Ive been to Brazil before and wandered the favellas (with a local guide). From what i saw and understood the favellas are run by the drug lords. This seems a good way. Doors are not locked, people weren't scared. If a crime happened, the drug lords would deal with it, which is more than i can say for if a crime happens elsewhere in Rio. Stay away from places that are 'high risk', unless you really know what you are doing, and the probability is that you would be safe, unless you are unlucky. But how many drunk, idiotic football fans will go looking for cheap cocaine? A VERY dangerous game!

    Like you say Tim, raiding these favellas will only mean the problems spill into the community even more. Personally i'd just let them have their ghettos, and keep it confined there. I clearly remember the last time i was in Rio in 2004, armed gunmen would patrol the favella exits and police would be sat 100m away, having a drink and food! The police wouldn't dare go into the favella as they didnt want a gun battle!

  • Comment number 32.

    Good point fraise, it wouldn't happen if the game's power-mongers weren't getting some sort of benefit on top of the good PR. I know that in a lot of cases big business can be encouraged to be charitable by way of donations being tax write-offs, but I'm not too sure how that would apply to this. I think I heard about the Homeless World Cup before and it is a very commendable competition, but to be honest I didn't pay it much attention. I'm a shallow man and if there are no diamond earring wearing millionaires on the pitch I tend to lose interest very quickly!

  • Comment number 33.

    Great blog Tim. Cheers.

    Sadly, I can't share your optimism at this early stage. I think it is difficult to recount the incidents - both political and personal - as you do in your blog, and finish by suggesting that no-one should be put off coming to 2014 for fear of social violence. I honestly do see where you're coming from and I respect the fact that your knowledge of Rio far exceeds my own, but I think the reportage gives the lie to your sentiment. Sorry.

    One of the posters above highlighted another concern about Brazil's hosting of the tournament, which is simply whether the police are to be trusted. In many respects, this is a more serious issue. Certainly, having the eyes of the world on them will encourage some degree of accountability but wealth breeds corruption and for the duration of the World Cup, there will be a significant amount of wealth around.

    That isn't to say that there isn't hope. We are still 4 years away and if none of us believed in people and society's capacity to change then the world really would be a depressing place. For now though I will have to reserve my optimism.

  • Comment number 34.

    What happened in Complexo do Alemao, in Rio,on Sunday has very little to do with the world cup, ask any person that lives in Rio de Janeiro, or any big city in Brasil. It makes me laugh how all these gringo comments I have read seem to think we are doing this to make you safe for the world cup. It has been done to make us the people who live in Brasil safe, don't kid yourself when this has settled down and the "drug dealers" are in jail there will be another group that takes over, and we must not forget that most if not all "drug dealers" continue to operate their business from their jail cell. Unless you have lived in a big city in Brasil you have little or no idea what we deal with on a day to day basis, the place is corrupt from top to bottom as Mr Ricardo Teixeira, will prove in the coming investigation by panorama (BBC), my advice is keep away, this is coming from a person that has had two (2) teenage members of his family shot in the head and killed for nothing, don't say I didn't warn you, and you Mr Vickery should be doing the same!

  • Comment number 35.

    Another excellent blog, Tim. Glad your experience turned out safely, although it must have been very traumatic. Educating the tourist not to stand-out in the crowd or carry lots of belongings will help. I agree with your statement:

    'When it comes to mega events such as 2014 or 2016, the authorities will put on a massive show of strength and the visitor will be protected.'

    ..this is definately correct. It was the same in South Africa and will be similar in London 2012. It's a shame in a way such resources aren't used to aid in developing a long-term solution to helping the poor citizens in these countries - those who live day to day with all the dangers than simply clearing it up for the cameras for the fortnight or month these comps last. I wonder who exactly will benefit from the redevelopment of Stratford, will the locals now be able to afford to live there long-term?

  • Comment number 36.

    'the geezer in brasil' - I agree mate but there is one fundamental difference between what you perceive as the point of the policia's show of force and why it is actually being done. Of course, the eventual long-term aim is to make brazil and the favela's a safer place for all involved but as you yourself just said - 'the place is corrupt from top to bottom' so what makes you think that the government are doing this for the people. I personally think it's being portrayed that way but it's more than a coincidence that this show of force has come about after plenty of international pressure and their winning bid for the WC! I'm pretty confident that they would have had to make a commitment to make the cities and favela's safer places as part of their bid for the WC anyway.
    I also believe that Lula - despite being in a position of power and heading up a corrupt establishment - is a good man who wants to do this for the people but let's not pretend that this is what it's based on. They've have decades to sort this problem and it's only being done now hence it's direct link to the WC.
    My heart goes out to you for your loss but you yourself must realise that this happens everywhere. SA was no different this year. It wasnt that well reported but a lot of attrocities took place during the event and regardless of what country it goes to in the future, i'm sure similar things will occur.

  • Comment number 37.

    JoC - will be similar in London? London has safety issues but to compare it to Jo'burg or Rio is pushing the envelope a bit...
    I am originally from Sao Paulo - been in London for 5 years now - and can definitely say, unfortunately, that the sensation of imminent danger is still a lot higher in Brazil.
    Now you may argue that Stratford or Hackney are pretty dire but still, the worst parts in London are not near as risky as the worst parts in Brazil - whereas the tourist sites here are safer by a million miles than tourist sites in Rio.

  • Comment number 38.

    It all comes down to the same question from older debates - is Brazil ready for the World Cup or the Olympics? It was not the case on the evidence of its lack of infrastructure, on its need for huge investment - when investment is needed in other areas - and, at least up to now, on the apparent incapacity of the country in using these events to boost its tourism industry and raise its profile internationally.
    And again, on the evidence of the persistent violence issue, the answer is no, Brazil is not ready. If we need to send troops up a hill as a purging exercise, this in itself is proffe that we should have other priorities in mind.
    But, what do I know - Lula, Ricardo Teixeira, Nuzmann and their gang are certainly men that we can trust, aren't they?

  • Comment number 39.

    ooopds, proof, not proffe

  • Comment number 40.

    I really enjoy listening to Tim on the World Football phone in along with some other world football chit chat on the BBC and commercial radio. The blog is just the icing on the cake!

    In addition to talking about personalities and the typical 606 football chat, Tim offers whole new insights into the game. It's an anthropological assessment of the modern game, mixed in with a bit of passion for the game... I love it!

    He so often touches on the cultural side to football that seems to be long forgotten in the modern game. I'm reading the book "The ball is round" on Tim's recommendation and it's exactly as he described. Thanks Tim for bringing football to life for me :)

    I have never been to Brazil but long shall I continue to dream. There are places in all of our cities where we live that we just won't go unless we're I'm not going to judge Brazil even if the crime rate there is, at first glance, disproportionate.

    Brazil is the 8th largest economy in the world (I think) so we should be mindful that although it has problems, the Brazilians must be a pretty resilient, hard working bunch.

    They seem to be a very proud nation in Brazil, so maybe....just maybe we'll see a much more different side to the favelas when the beautiful game arrives at the gates of the honorary guardians of the game.

  • Comment number 41.

    Rio is certainly worse off than all the other cities in Brazil, even Sao Paulo. As dangerous as Sao Paulo can be, there isn't a place where the police won't go. Also, other cities in Brazil, albeit smaller ones (in the couple millions) like Curitiba and Porto Alegre, aren't as bad... yet.

    THe problem of violence in Brazil runs deep though; the laws are ridiculously bland (since -- and because of -- when the military regime left power). 24 years in prison is the absolute maximum penalty and few if any stay in that long. Can you imagine serial killers ever going back to society? It does happen in Brazil! Minors have their records erased once they turn 18, regardless of what they've done. There is no death penalty and all prisons are overflowing.

    Another obvious problem is that in many cases, the police officers live next or in the same favelas (slums) along with the druglords; who do you think they answer to?

    Since I don't see any movement in legislature to address the laws, or executive to address the infrastructure, I'm afraid whatever improvements we are seeing in Rio now are only going to be temporary.

  • Comment number 42.

    Thanks for indirectly answering my email question:)

  • Comment number 43.

    Robguima, you are right - the problem is a lot deeper. The issue though is not only the severity of penalties - but also the totally flawed correctional system (prisons in Brazil are "universities of crime" ) which in my opinion is even more important - well, for one we don't have prisons enough for the ones that are jailed, let alone if we had to jail thousands more and let them there for longer years.

    Of course there all the long term issues - education, creating more jobs and opportunities to youngsters that in the lack of those are easily seduced by crime etc - but again, these are not so relevant, after all why not paint it all as rosy as possible and hold the Olympics, surely that's got to be more relevant...

  • Comment number 44.

    @34 I'm very sorry to hear of your own personal losses and Tim's own experience, which thankfully still sees him with us. However you can never erase the memories. I don't think you can comprehend something like this unless you have personal experience.

    When a guy in a gang of four tried to rob me in London I was very lucky. There was no gun or knife! However this simply doesn't equate with what you've both been through. Your experiences were on another level. That seems to be a major difference between the two cities - the apparent regularity of the brutality in certain parts of Rio.

    I'm afraid the Olympics in London and Rio and the World Cup in Brazil will change very little, particularly for those most in need of help. Same as it ever was? Those who believe otherwise are being very naive.

    However I do think Lula was a different kind of politician. He clearly had first hand experience of real poverty and that is a major difference. He's been there. I hope Bolsa Familia continues. Policies like that are the only way to achieve and supplement lasting change.

    Sports festivals change nothing. That change has to start in the family and the schools, with very heavy national and state intervention if necessary. This is particularly so for those who don't have any real family, sense of family and those trying to hold a family together.

    I simply despair when I hear Sepp Blatter talk of the "Fifa football family". This statement completely overplays the importance of his organisation and the man himself, and completely devalues the concept of the family within the social structure.

    Please tell me Mr. Blatter what will Fifa do about drug gangs in the favelas and on London's council estates? What do you have to say to a mother and/or father living in one and trying to hold a family together.

    People who can't begin to solve the problems of a state should not behave like a head of state! They should recognise the minimal role they actually play within a true global context.

    The problems in cities like London and Rio will take generations to solve and will never be completely eradicated. This process will take a lot longer than forty five minutes each way Mr. Blatter.

  • Comment number 45.

    Comment 23- I'm sorry for what happened to your friend but you can't compare Rio and London. Ask anyone who lived in both cities - the level of crime is very different.

    I went to the World Cup in South Africa. We stayed in Cape Town. As we arrived on 4th June, we saw how security stepped up. We got jumped on our first night in Camps Bay (not the scariest place in Cape Town!!!). We were quite drunk (our fault), being a bit cocky (or stupid) and got ourselves to blame. Luckley no one was hurt, nothing stolen and we had a great time after that.

    I am sure that the people in charge of the WC in Brazil will seek as many tips as they can from South Africa. Many private security companies will be offering their services. I am not worried at all and I'm definitely going.

  • Comment number 46.

    If Brazil get the World Cup, Then the english should see sense and elect Derek Hatton to front any future bids for major tournaments

  • Comment number 47.

    #37 AlexAD - I was talking more about anti-terror concerns when including London 2012 in the arguement for any tournaments 'noticeable upscaling of security'; although I'm sure pick-pockets and muggers will be making a bee-line to the capital from both near and far to join those already here.

    Your comment could be made the other way around by saying not too many visitors to Brazil will be heading directly towards the favelas either ;)

  • Comment number 48.

    #46 2014 World Cup is in Brazil, England is bidding for 2018

  • Comment number 49.

    as a southamerican my advise to the people coming to this continent is to investigate the good areas in the cities, because british, americans and europeans tend to explore, look for exotic places, and that's exactly where you can get mugged. If you move in the touristic areas where the police patrols regularly, you have fewer chances for trouble. Also as southamericans we kinda know who to trust, how to take care of our pockets, bags, etc.; we get mugged sometimes but we try not to give the thiefs the opportunity. I lived in London, and it´s true you can walk more relaxed on the streets, withdraw cash from the holes in the wall, use your iphone in public, etc. in South America you have to be more careful, but still you can come and have a great time, just take care of yourselves and don't wander around strange places.

  • Comment number 50.

    Good blog Tim. Yes the mentality has to change with security and how they handle it. "My gun in the face story" was from a cop who thought a School Teacher (at the time), with bags in both hands posed a threat to him. His colleagues didn´t bother pulling there weapons when they heard my English and look insensed at a colleague who removed to lower his weapon!

    Anyway Security aside they still have to build the stadiums first (let forget about the infrastructure that goes with it) so 2014 is still not a certainty for me. But one immediate problem will be locating fans in the same area for group games to avoid to much internal movement.

    Incidently did you know the most upto date of planners for 2014 is Tres Coracôes in Minas. 3to 4 hours from SP, Rio and BH, they are expanding their airport and preparing for the mass of football tourism coming to see the birthplace of Pele.

  • Comment number 51.

    AlexAD, agreed concerning the quality, or lack thereof, of the jails in Brazil, but that goes along my previous point about infrastructure. As much as agree that improving peoples education will benefit the country, I don't agree this alone will solve the violence problem.

    I don't think that the European example, of a small(er) country with much equality, can be reproduced in Brazil. Brazil is much more similar to the USA than any European country. Being continental country and having population in the 200 million, makes inequality a given.

    Even if the extremely bland laws don't generate crime (I think they do), they certainly make the crimes worse. There have been numerous reports and studies pointing out that criminals in Brazil show no restraint because they know further acts of violence have no consequence, even if they are caught. The maximum is 30 years (no life imprisonment sentence) plus parole allowing serial killers to walk free after a fraction of that. No surprise criminals thrive in Brazil.

  • Comment number 52.

    Having visited Rio, I have never been to anywhere where the gap between the have's and have not's is so 'in your face' and blatant.

    Sport (or rather it's issues with Rio) should pale in to insignificance to the obvious social problems there.

    Poverty and crime are one thing, but sat so close to wealth and opportunity 'down the road' tells me that those turning to crime might have a reason to do so.

    If I grew up in a Rio slum, I too would turn to crime.

  • Comment number 53.

    Everyone said the same thing about SA, and that turned out fine. I don't think we should worry too much.

    However, those pictures are quite scary. I thought getting harassed by Blues fans on the way to Villa Park was bad enough, but this is another level!

  • Comment number 54.

    The 2014 WC will be great for locals and tourists alike. You just have to be smart and careful. Just remember all the horrific scenarios people were envisioning for SA 2010. Sure it wasn't perfect but it didn't turn out catastrophic as many predicted and fear. It'll be especailly sweet for Spaniards who will win the cup again, after winning the Euros, on their way to becoming the best team in history.

  • Comment number 55.

    Speaking as someone who has made some quite mindless decisions, all over the World, through influence of alcohol, I can safely say that a high percentage of danger can be eradicated by using common sense.

    Yes, you can never be sure you won't get unlucky, but by using common sense, staying within a group, being aware of the surrounding environment, and remembering where you are at all times, especially after dark, you eliminate a lot of the obvious dangers.

    As a tourist, you're an easy target. Of course, there are a percentage of criminals that don't really care about the consequences of their actions, and may act wherever they please i.e at traffic lights in broad daylight. But, my view of South America, through my own experiences and that of other travelers, is that most muggers are opportunistic and are waiting for you to give them the chance to take advantage of you.

    The two times I was mugged were in Santiago and Rio. Santiago was my first night in South America and I maybe hadn't considered the dangers well enough, and Rio was at the end of my travels, where I'd maybe got into a bit of a comfort zone in South America. Both times were when I wondered off alone after a night out. If I hadn't done that, my four months in South America would have passed without notable incident on the crime front. It was an almost daily occurrence in hostels around the continent to hear of similar stories happening to other travelers. I didn't once hear of people getting mugged at gun point or knife point when they hadn't put themselves in that situation - although I'm aware it does obviously happen.

    My advice to anyone going there is just to stay aware, use common sense at all times, stay in groups at all times, and you should be alright. I would also say that, having visited places like La Paz and Bogota, Rio felt by far the most unsafe place, beautiful as it was.

  • Comment number 56.

    Drug Lords in Brazil are highly connected to the political party that rules Brazil. The President Lula´s political party, PT.
    PT is a left party that keeps a close relationship with the FARC (The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). FARC is Colombia´s biggest drug cartel. They are also terrorists responsible for kidnapping, bomb attacks, murders, etc. Brazil is one of the biggest exporters of cocaine. But how ? we don´t produce cocaine ! Well, the brazilian governmet allows the cocaine to come into the country. The drugs come from Colombia easily. There is no army or police patroling the border. Then they allow the drug to cross the entire country, from north to south, by truck, till the final destination: Port of Santos. From there the drug is shipped to Africa or Europe. simply as that !
    So now the brazilian government pretends to be fighting against the drug lords, but thats not the truth because they can´t shoot themselves in the head. CORRUPTION ALL OVER THE COUNTRY !!

  • Comment number 57.

    Rio is a dangerous city, but violence of this type shouldn't scare anyone from going to the World Cup, I went to Rio in 1999, if you stick to the tourist spots, you're fine... if you venture into the Favela, you're asking for trouble, but the same can be said of New York's ghettos, the City of Newark or even Montevideo... stick to the spots that are Tourist Friendly, avoid dark alleys, remote isolated out of the way places... During a World Cup, bus shuttles will take fans to the Stadiums, I saw Fluminense vs Santos in January of 1999, the bus picked me up from my hotel, a guide made sure we were all grouped together like sardines during the game, once the game was over, the shuttle took us back to our hotels. I never got mugged, still had my brand of fun and made it back in one piece.

    If you have friends in Brazil, your World Cup stay will be better, you can actually see more of the country.

    For me though, Buenos Aires is a whole different beast, armies of pickpockets are out to rob you wherever you go... & the Argentinean is not known for being particularly friendly, if you ask them for directions, they purposely send you in the wrong direction. Brazilians aren't like that, friendly people all around. Besides if James Bond made it out of Brazil despite having to tangle with Jaws on top a Sugar-Loaf mountain cable car then the average tourist should make it out alive, considering the only drama they'll see are the actual World Cup games.

  • Comment number 58.

    I'm sorry if you had a bad experience on your holiday in Buenos Aires but you're painting an unfair and incorrect picture of the city and the people.
    If we're going to generalize, whilst Argentines might not be as quite as gregarious as Brazilians I think its nonsense to say they routinely and deliberately give incorrect directions.
    "Armies of pickpockets"? Another huge exagerration.
    There is occasionally some resentment towards foreigners, particularly those that go round insensitively flashing the cash, but most visitors who come here leave with a very positive impression.

  • Comment number 59.

    Hi Tim,

    Living in Mexico i'm also aware of the greater risk factor in everyday life. I think i'm lucky, I live in a very nice city in the middle of the country, with more of an affluent population than other parts of the country. There's none of the drug violence or problems of the border towns here, but i've heard stories of friends and aquaintances that remind you that you shouldn't take it for granted.
    I've been here for 3 years without a single problem myself. I've never felt unsafe at any time, and hopfully i'll never find myself having a similar experience to you.
    I agree with you though. Much as South Africa did with their World Cup, the unsavoury members of society will be cracked down on for that month, and tourists will be especially well looked after.
    There shouldn't be any reason for anyone to fear heading to Brasil for the World Cup, and much like Mexico I imagine much of the fear is generated by the media scaremongering and reputation, rather than the actual reality.

  • Comment number 60.

    I went to South Africa for the World Cup with a far greater sense of apprehension than when I went to Rio at the start of my south american travels, but in reality I think it turned out much less threatening and I had some amazing experiences, except for the England-USA result of course. Most worries I heard about in Rio, but didn't experience myself because I arrived the night after, were the Lapa street party on Friday night(lots of people squashed together in pick-pocket fantasy land) and Copacabana beach in the night or early hours at dawn. It is easy to take precautions with how you distribute money around your pockets and not to take expensive phones or cameras everywhere, or your credit cards. I went 7 months in the continent without any threats to myself, including La Paz (maybe people are too cold and tired to steal at altitude) and Quito which I was also warned about. Dressing more like the locals (i.e. not in shorts and t-shirts when all the locals consider it winter and cold and dress accordingly) and toning down the bling will also help. No reason at all why people should be scared of Brazil, it is a lovely and friendly country, with great scenery and a good intercity bus system.

  • Comment number 61.

    # 60 Rover, you are correct sir. You just have to be smart and careful. The problem is all you hear from SA in the news --at least in the US, where I live-- is usually horrible. Take Brazil for instance. When you hear the word drug lords you imagine chaos and obscene poverty, when in fact a large percentage of Brazilian --I'd say at least 40 million-- enjoy a standard of living much higher that, say, all the Scandinavian countries put together. Yes, you also have the favelas, but most Brazilians lead a fairly comfortable middle-class lifestyle. And they love their footie and their country, so I suspect most Brazilians will do their part to see to the success of the WC.

  • Comment number 62.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 63.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 64.

    TIM VICKERY.. do u agree with this post about english football?

    "The tactical options and refereeing + player choices kind of mask english premier league technical deficiencies.

    In Premiership there is less time on the ball than in any league.

    The grass of the pitches are the shortest in the world, often wet, so the ball runs really fast. That, added to the fact that the public stands are really close to the pitch add a claustrophobic feeling to the game.

    Is it really good to be that fast,physical, strong?

    Technically good players are often "kicked" out of the league, since a lot of adaptation is needed, and the fans dont like to wait that long for a plyaer to adapt. The teams are left with more physical players, while better technical players go to other leagues.

    The premier league has much much more money than other leagues, but the results arent quite there. Manchester is the only succesful team in the last years, with a fluke final of Liverpool against Milan.

    I think some changes, as more fouls being given should slow the game up a bit, and get more tchnical.

    I say this also because a great midfielder Sandro is being benched for a not so stunning player called Palacio at Tottenham, because the latter is already adapted."

  • Comment number 65.

    Post 57 - El Presidente.

    You got it 100% correct. I travel to Brazil on my own, have been to Rio 3 times and am shortly going again for a 4th visit.
    Regardless of what happened last week, i can't wait to visit again.

    You do your homework, check out what to/where to go...and what NOT to do/where to go and everything's fine.

  • Comment number 66.

    I'm sure every country in the world has areas that aren't as safe as others and as long as you stay away from them, you should be ok. Of course, sometimes you may end up in trouble no matter what but this will happen in Brazil, England or wherever you live.

    Of course, you can always ignore the warnings and visit these areas but you'll only be asking for trouble. Brazil is not the exception to this rule so nothing new about this article.

    About Buenos Aires, it's a great city, sure it's covered in graffity and it's quite dirty but I found the people very friendly, despite their reputation as porteños, and there is a great "atmosphere" in the place. I haven't had any issues the times I've been there. And because their economy is usually pretty bad, shopping is great for foreigners ;)

    And @57, as far as asking for directions and getting sent in the wrong direction. That seems to be a common thing not only in Argentina but at least in Spanish South America. People are embarrassed to say they don't know, they don't like to admit ignorance, so they'll just make it up. Unfortunately, this is not very helpful for tourists.

  • Comment number 67.

  • Comment number 68.

    have recently returned from Rio, saw Los Flamengo play Vasco de Gama, apparently the most deadly rivalry in Brazil. Fantastic atmosphere, great experience complete with tear gas and the meanest dogs I have ever seen. Thought Rio was a pit, would i go again--not a chance, stayed overlooking Cococabana beach, great situation complemented with the sub machine gun toting police and an awareness of tight security everwhere. Paid to go to one of the flavela with a tour guide, who was also a resident, great experience and interesting in many ways, but lots of the flavela are offlimits to all but the inhabitants. Be very wary, vigilant and watch the caipirinhas, the national drink which is potent!!!

  • Comment number 69.

    There is more in Brazil than Rio or São Paulo!

    What is most frustrating about this article and many Brazilians’ comments at this blog is that they pretend that ALL places in Brazil are the same. I live in Curitiba (one of 2014 WC cities) and by no means it is like Rio.

    In fact, I never give any chances to “hazard” when I go to Rio. Tim was really lucky in his incident in Rio. Things could have been very nasty for him because one should never put himself as “the shining target” anywhere (even in Europe). And what is tricky is that “shining target” standards change around the globe.

    As a Londoner would say at the subway: MIND THE GAP. There is a big social one in Brazil. Don’t give any chances (going or doing what you shouldn’t) and you’ll certainly have a great time in here.


  • Comment number 70.

    Tevez keeps getting angry at Mancini when being subbed. Is this at all normal?

  • Comment number 71.


    I think you are "breaking the rules of this house" as I got extremely offended after reading that you consider Rio as a place where "life is cheap". This could be true for criminals that live in Rio’s favelas, but not for the society as a whole. I think there is a lot of prejudice in your report against not just Cariocas, but against every Brazilian. Shame on you that, in spite of being in Rio for such a long time, does not seem to have learned anything about the place.

  • Comment number 72.

    "have recently returned from Rio, saw Los Flamengo play Vasco de Gama, apparently the most deadly rivalry in Brazil."

    1 - its Flamengo, not "los Flamengo". Los is not even a portuguese word.

    2 - Flamengo vs Vasco is far from being the biggest brazilian rivalry

    "great experience complete with tear gas and the meanest dogs I have ever seen."

    Did not watch this match. Where were you?

    "Paid to go to one of the flavela with a tour guide, who was also a resident, great experience and interesting in many ways, but lots of the flavela are offlimits to all but the inhabitants. Be very wary, vigilant and watch the caipirinhas, the national drink which is potent!!!"

    your problem if you visited a favela.

  • Comment number 73.

    71 - you want me to be a diplomat rather than a journalist, tell sweet little lies rather than the truth as i see it.

    69 - you are entirely correct, all of brazil is not rio or sao paulo. curitiba takes pride in being something of an exception. but the article mentions 'big city brazil' - a number of world cup venues have problems of urban security - belo horizonte, perhaps, recife and fortaleza. I hope you noticed that the atricle concludes with my view that it is safe to come in 2014

  • Comment number 74.

    I agree with most of the commenters here that Rio is MUCH more than football violence and it's certainly not all "life is cheap". It's rough and tough but there are also moments of light and glory.
    I've watched several matches in Rio and never felt really afraid. I have actually been more afraid in both England, Spain and even Denmark going to local matches.

    However the 2014 developments shall be very interesting to follow.

    mobilt bredbånd

  • Comment number 75.


    I went to see a football match in Leicester some years ago and could hear the supports of a specific team shouting that “Leicester is a little town in Asia” . In spite of that sad and embarrassing experience, I wouldn’t say that the British are racists. I had a housemate (half Danish/half Japanese) that arrived at home bleeding and in panic because he was attacked by a group of teenagers. In spite of that horrible experience, I wouldn’t say that every British teenager is a criminal. I had loads of overseas colleagues attending the same university I was attending in England that had suffered either verbal intimidation or physical aggression. The problem was so serious that the local police had to pay a visit to the university in order to give advice to foreign students. A Portuguese friend of mine was so shocked after suffering a physical aggression that he gave up he studies and went back to Portugal. But I know that England is much better than all those bad experiences that I have witnessed. I know that the British society is as a whole is very tolerant. The problem that I have with your article is that you suggest that people from Rio do not value life. You may be sure that they are as victims as you have been on that day. I’m not asking you to tell lies, but to put things into perspective and to try to start seeing the good things that Rio and its inhabitants can offer you.

    Best wishes,

  • Comment number 76.

    75 - "you suggest that people from Rio do not value life. You may be sure that they are as victims as you have been on that day."

    This was one of the points the article was trying to make - this is a huge, huge problem for local society. my own family - girlfriend and her two daughters, originally from rio's poor suburbs, have suffered from urban violence in ways that are hardly imaginable to a british audience.

    the idea that contemporary conditions have created parts of society which are brutal and brutalising is not mine - i'm sure you will be aware that this is a common strand of thought in brazil amongst ordinary citizens, journos and sociologists. you seem upset to hear it coming from a foreigner.

    but you distort my message if you think i am saying that violence is all rio has to offer. if i believed that i would hardly have been here for so long - and remember that the piece ends with my personal view that it will be safe for supporters to come in 2014.

  • Comment number 77.

    I really wanna visit South America (particularly Argentina, Colombia and Mexico) for football related reasons, but after reading some of these horrific situations some of you guys have been to, I'm happy I've put it on the back burner for now.

  • Comment number 78.

    If drug lords hope to disrupt Brazil's hosting of the 2014 World Cup and the Rio Olympics, this is something the government must step in to stop immediately for the health of the events.


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