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Archive for May, 2009

Amazon to stage first World Cup Finals match

May 31st, 2009

mapaula, flickr

mapaula, flickr

The first-ever FIFA World Cup Finals match will be played in the Amazon region of Brazil, after the sport’s governing body announced the cities to host the tournament in 2014.

Wild celebrations were seen across Brazil on Sunday in the twelve chosen cities.

Porto Alegre, Curitiba (South); São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte (South-East); Natal, Recife, Fortaleza and Salvador (North-East); Cuiabá and Brasília (Centre-West); and Manaus were selected to host matches.

In 1950, when Brazil staged the first post World War II finals, Rio de Janiero,  Belo Horizonte, Curitiba, Recife, Porto Alegre and  São Paulo played host to 13 teams and 22 matches.

Brazil’s World Cup qualifying matches have been staged outside big cities in recent years because of criticism of the performances of highly-paid players, many of whom play for European clubs.

Though there were no real surprises, the city of Manuas in Amazonia beat off competition from rival Belém.

Manuas is said to have drawn on support from Japanese electronics multinational Sony whose Brazilian base is in the city. Sony has been a regular World Cup sponsor or partner in FIFA’s parlance.

Hot and Humid

Unsurprisingly for a city of 1.7 million people in Brazil’s Amazon region, average temperatures of between 24 and 31 degrees, added to high humidity levels for teams drawn to play in Manaus will be big factors.

It’s believed FIFA had intended to name only 10 hosting cities, until the intervention of Brazilian Football Association President Ricardo Texeira.

Five cities Belém, Campo Grande, Florianópolis, Goiânia and Rio Branco missed out on the chance to host the competition in which 31 countries are expected to line up alongside Brazil, once they have negotiated tricky qualifying stages to get through to the final 64 matches.

The tournament’s opening match will be in São Paulo with the final scheduled to played at the Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro, scene of the final match of 1950, which saw the Jules Rimet trophy snatched from under the Brazilian team’s noses by 11 minutes from the end by Uruguay.

In this football-crazy country, that 2-1 loss first sparked a period of national mourning on the scale of the assassination of John F. Kennedy and then self-examination that was to last eight years until 1958, when Brazil clinched the first of five victories 5-2 against hosts Sweden in Stockholm.

The Brazilian government has been preparing a number of mini-economic growth packages to stage the 20th edition of the FIFA World Cup, putting the emphasis on transport and other infrastructure projects. Cuiabá, Natal and Recife will get new stadia.

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Brazilians still shopping as going gets tougher

May 14th, 2009

Brazil’s worst set of industrial employment figures in eight years are reflected in latest official numbers and though shoppers haven’t stopped filling their baskets, what they are buying may point to a subtle change in habits.

The number of workers employed in the industrial sector fell by 5% in March compared with the same month last year, with analysts saying if they weren’t already, all sectors of industry are now being affected.

Nowhere more so than automobile sector. After four straight months of rising sales, inspired by cuts in production taxes, the recent recovery shuddered to a halt in April.

Tell-tale signs are also in the steel industry, which relies on the auto sector for orders.

Producers have been running at half their normal capacity with no one in the industry prepared to make forecasts for the rest of the year.

And if that weren’t confirmation enough that the economy is spluttering, Development, Industry and Foreign Trade minister Miguel Jorge conceded Brazil is in technical recession - the first government figure to do so.

Since the onset of the global economic downturn last September sparked by the international credit crisis, economists have been whittling down their growth forecasts for Brazil from an initial 5% for 2009 to as low as a 1.4% contraction.

Photo: monkey magic, flickr

Photo: monkey magic, flickr

The forecast contraction failed to hit home in the household consumption of food, drink, health, beauty and cleaning products in the first three months of the year, as sales rose among all socio-economic classes.

Spending among the lowest income groups increased 15% in cash terms and 9% by volume, according to figures from retail analysts LatinPanel .

That word household may be a pointer to what is actually happening economists say, as people prefer to dye their hair at home rather than paying the hairdresser.

Spending on food to eat at the dinner table is also rising faster than on eating out.

“The consumer is changing habits and this should continue to the end of the year,” one economist was quoted as saying.

Not everyone is doing badly.

Given the still massive disparity between the wealthy and poor in Brazil, it’s perhaps not surprising to find upscale supermarket chain Pão de Açúcar doing well.

So well in fact, the chain tripled its profits to R$94.9 million ($44.8 million) in the first three months of this year versus the same period in 2008 on the back of cost cutting and increased sales.

Brazil’s government will hope some of that feelgood factor will be transmitted to makers of white goods such as fridges, freezers and washing machines, after it cut production taxes in a bid to boost demand.

Business, Economy , ,

Iran leader cancels Brazil visit

May 4th, 2009

Photo: karimii,flickr

Photo: karimii,flickr

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has cancelled a visit to Brazil scheduled for Wednesday, Agencia Brasil, the country’s government news agency said.

The planned visit, which angered Jewish and human rights groups, led to protests in Brazil.

Before the announcement, opponents of the visit argued Brazil should not be rolling out the red carpet to a leader who has repeatedly questioned whether the holocaust took place and openly supports the oppression of women and the persecution of homosexuals.

Though Iran insists its nuclear energy programme is for peaceful purposes only, western governments are worried about its intentions, given Ahmadinejad has questioned neighbouring Israel´s right to exist.
On April 20, a speech by Ahmadinejad at a United Nations Security Council anti-racism conference sparked a walkout by diplomats from western nations.

The following day, Brazil’s foreign ministry issued a softly-worded statement saying it would use this week’s meeting to raise the issue of discrimination with Ahmadinejad and while it sees dialogue as crucial, the government is concerned about the Iranian leader’s comments “diminshing the significance of the holocaust.”

Ahmadinejad has also dropped plans to visit Ecuador and Venezuela Agencia Brasil, said.

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Ronaldo targets World Cup recall after title victory

May 3rd, 2009

Photo: Ronaldo has put the smile back on the Corinthians club. Photo: nikefutebol, flickr

Photo: Ronaldo has put the smile back on the Corinthians club. Photo: nikefutebol, flickr

Ronaldo says he still hopes to play in next year’s World Cup Finals in South Africa and is ready to return to Brazil’s national football squad, should coach Dunga pick up the phone.

“It’s not my choice, but I’m a Brazilian soldier waiting in reserve, in case the commander-in-chief calls,” Ronaldo told TV variety show host Faustão, when asked whether his goal is to play in the 2010 World Cup, after his Corinthians team clinched the São Paulo state championship.

A 1-1 draw with rivals Santos was enough to complete Ronaldo’s fairy-tale comeback to Brazilian football, as Corinthians lifted the oversized trophy in front of their own fans at Pacaembu stadium, São Paulo on Sunday.

Santos took the lead from a Kleber penalty on 28 minutes, narrowing the deficit from the first leg of the the tie, which Corinthians won 3-1.

Five minutes later, André Santos steadied Corinthians’ fans nerves, shooting past Santos keeper Fábio Costa, after an exchange of passes with Dentinho.

As the trophy slipped away, Santos’ fate was sealed in 83rd minute with the expulsion of Domingos for a second yellow card offence, the final whistle sparking a cacophony of fireworks and car horns all around the city of São Paulo.

The result marks not only a happy return for World Cup winner Ronaldo, 32, after a year out from the game with another career-threatening injury, but also for Corinthians, a team that suffered relegation from the separate First Division championship at the end of 2007.

Corinthians bounced back to the top division at the end of last year and then took a chance on the ageing former superstar - a move that paid dividends, once Ronaldo returned from injury to notch eight goals in eleven appearances.

Sport , ,

Iran leader visit provokes protest in Brazil

May 3rd, 2009

Photo: Mario Cardoso

Photo: Mario Cardoso

Protests are being held in Brazil ahead of Wednesday’s visit by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which has angered Jewish and human rights groups.

For the Brazilian government the visit is seen as a step on the road towards widening its trade links and developing an independent foreign policy, including relations with increasingly influential countries.

Brazilian exports to Iran were put at $1.8 billion in 2007, but this is said to have fallen by about 40% to $1.1 billion last year, after international support for doing business with Iran waned, following a United Nations Security Council resolution.

The government says it wants to increase dialogue and bilateral cooperation in a number of areas, while maintaining a critical distance from Iran.

For the around 1,000 demonstrators who gathered in São Paulo calling for the visit to be cancelled, that distance is nowhere near far enough, if it means offering Amhadinejad, who has repeatedly questioned whether the holocaust took place, a platform for his views in Brazil.

As well as São Paulo, demonstrations were expected to take place in the cities of Rio de Janeiro, Porto Alegre and Belo Horizonte.

Photo: Mario Cardoso

The treatment of women´s rights and the persecution of gays are seen as other reasons why Brazil should not get involved with Iran.

Opponents of the visit say President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva — a symbol of Brazil´s struggle to free itself from military dictatorship — should not be rolling out the red carpet to a leader who openly promotes oppression.

“Lula got to where he is by fighting for human rights, where are the human rights in Iran?” asked one demonstrator.

Though Iran insists its nuclear energy programme is for peaceful purposes only, western governments are worried about its intentions, given Ahmadinejad has questioned neighbouring Israel´s right to exist.

On April 20, a speech by Ahmadinejad at a United Nations Security Council anti-racism conference sparked a walkout by diplomats from western nations.

The following day, Brazil’s foreign ministry issued a softly-worded statement saying it would use this week’s meeting to raise the issue of discrimination with Ahmadinejad and while it sees dialogue as crucial, the government is concerned about the Iranian leader’s comments “diminshing the significance of the holocaust.”

News, Politics ,