Brazil Prepares for World Cup by Seizing Homes, Chasing Vendors Away; Protesters Respond With a World Cup of Their Own

An alt-World Cup in the favelas.


When an international sporting event comes to town, that often means heavy-handed repression (and other problems) for people unfortunate enough to live in the host city. With São Paulo preparing to present the upcoming FIFA World Cup, for example, Al Jazeera reports that Brazil's congress has passed a law restricting

local street vendors from selling their wares within a two-kilometre radius of FIFA's restricted zones. These zones are heavily militarised by local security forces.

Opponents of FIFA…said preparations for the Cup have also led the government to evict residents from their homes in exchange for commercial development and increasing real-estate values….

The government has denied forcibly evicting families from their homes without due process, or for the sole purpose of infrastructure projects related to the World Cup and Olympics.

Activists dispute the government's claims. Maria do Socorro, a co-organiser and resident of a favela named Indiana, has had to fight to keep her three-story house where she has lived since she was six years old.

Activists are protesting the regulations and evictions in an interesting way: They've organized an alternative tournament. According to Al Jazeera, the players are

men and women of all ages from Rio's many favelas, poor communities that surround the city.

La Copa Popular, or the People's Cup, is hosted by the activist group People's Committee of the World Cup and Olympics and is in its second year.

The qualifying tournament for this year's Copa Popular finals took place at the top of the Morro do Salgueiro favela in northern Rio, and the finals will be held on June 8.

A similar event was held in South Africa when the World Cup was played there in 2010. Then as now, the aim was "to protest evictions, removals, and the barring of local vendors from designated FIFA areas"—and presumably to have some fun playing too.