Campaigners demanding a “fair” 2014 World Cup in Brazil handed a 28,000-signature petition to football’s global governing body FIFA Monday, amid mass protests in the host nation over poor public services and graft.
Solidar Switzerland said it was time to “blow the whistle” on FIFA boss Sepp Blatter, who is from the Alpine country.
FIFA, based in the Swiss city of Zurich, has insisted the protest wave in Brazil is a domestic issue.
In a statement, it said Blatter had received Solidar Switzerland’s delegation at its Zurich headquarters and had “welcomed the initiative.”
Solidar Switzerland insists FIFA must face up to its responsibility as it owns the rights to the World Cup, its main money-spinners.
It demanded that FIFA speak out against an image conscious clean-up of Brazil’s working class “favela” districts, charging that more than 150,000 people will have been driven from their homes by the time the tournament kicks off in June 2014.
It also slammed restrictions on some 300,000 street vendors, inspired by a desire to protect World Cup branding rights, saying it would deprive the poorest of their livelihoods.
Nor should FIFA stay silent about labor exploitation on World Cup construction sites and in factories making tournament souvenirs for fans, it said.
Solidar Switzerland also blasted tax breaks for both FIFA and World Cup sponsors such as Adidas, Coca-Cola and Budweiser.
They “refuse to allow their billions of profits to be taxed in Brazil. But the Brazilian population must bear the cost of the World Cup,” it said.
Solidar Switzerland underlined that 2010 World Cup host South Africa was left with debts of almost $3.0 billion, while FIFA’s profits hit $3.2 billion.
Polls show that three-quarters of Brazilians back the protests but that two-thirds are overall in favor of the World Cup, despite anger at the billions of dollars the event is costing, money many feel could be better spent on education, transport and housing.