Brazilians shouldn’t protest during the World Cup, according to UEFA President Michel Platini.
Speaking to reporters, the French former footballer who is now head of European football’s governing body, said that: “We must tell the Brazilians that they have the World Cup and they are there to show the beauty of their country and their passion for football. If they can wait at least a month before making social outbursts, it would be good for Brazil and for the football world.”
Brazilians should “pay tribute to this beautiful World Cup,” Platini continued, saying it was given to Brazil to “make them happy”.
He added that Brazilians should get in the mood for receiving tourists from all over the world “and that for one month, they should make a truce”.
The men running football (it is most often men) have a history of making at best misguided, at worst ignorant, statements about complicated issues — FIFA President Sepp Blatter famously suggested racist incidents on the pitch could be settled by a handshake.
However, you would think that the size of last summer’s World Cup-related protests, and the fact that demonstrations are still going on almost a year later, would make even the grandees of world football understand that Brazilians have legitimate grievances — and that these shouldn’t be shoved aside just so we can have a global party.
The various controversies surrounding Brazil 2014, from the price tag of some £7 billion, to lack of transparency and unsafe working conditions at building sites, have been well documented. This is in no small part due Brazilians taking to the streets, making it impossible for their government, FIFA and the rest of the world to ignore their dissatisfaction.
But Platini isn’t the only one who wants protesters to take a break during the very event that for many has been the focus of their anger. Indeed, authorities have taken a number of steps aimed at suppressing demonstrations, including banning people from wearing masks during protests and “promoting ‘tumult’ within 5 km of a sporting event.” The over 170,000 security personnel set to be deployed will probably play their part too.
Whether or not you believe that the intention behind awarding Brazil the World Cup was to make people happy, there’s no escaping that fact that many aren’t. The competition is going ahead, there’s no changing that, but Brazilians should have the right to show their unhappiness about it whenever they like.