Fri, Dec 16, 2011 - Page 19 News List

Brazil wants to exchange guns for World Cup tickets

The Guardian, RIO DE JANEIRO

Soccer’s world governing body FIFA is studying plans to hand out free or cut-price World Cup tickets to soccer fans who surrender guns to the Brazilian government.

Brazil’s justice ministry submitted the plans for the 2014 event last month as part of a new disarmament drive.

According to reports in the Brazilian media, the government’s suggestions also include swapping official soccer balls and shirts signed by World Cup teams for weapons handed in to authorities.

Another proposal, part of a new “World Cup law” currently being debated by lawmakers in the capital, Brasilia, would see destroyed guns being used to make goalposts that would be used during the World Cup in Brazil and at other FIFA competitions around the globe.

An MP from the Brazilian Democratic Movement party, Renan Filho, has called for the Brazilian World Cup to adopt the theme: “For a world without guns.”

“We must consider the social legacy in defense of peace,” he told a congressional hearing last month. “In [South] Africa the theme was the fight against AIDS. Here we must spread the culture of peace and disarmament. We are still the country that most kills with firearms.”

In an interview with the Globo Esporte Web site, a representative of the Desarma Brasil campaign, Cilma Azevedo, said that soccer’s popularity meant it was a key platform for Brazil’s anti-gun movement.

“Death rates from firearms are very high and we see football as something that can mobilize people [against this],” she said.

During a recent visit to Brazil, FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke provoked the ire of some campaigners when responding to questions about the disarmament drive.

“I think that unfortunately there are so many guns in Brazil that we wouldn’t have a sufficient number of tickets,” he said.

Brazil’s latest disarmament campaign began in May, one month after a former student stormed his old primary school in Rio de Janeiro and shot 12 pupils.

Since then, more than 20,000 guns have been handed in as part of an ongoing amnesty.

However, serious challenges remain, not least entrenched police corruption.

This week police in Rio launched a major operation against arms-trafficking, arresting 18 people, including 13 police officers, who were accused of selling guns and drugs back to gangsters from Jacarezinho, a sprawling favela in the city’s north zone.

According to a study released on Wednesday, Brazil’s homicide rates have risen 124 percent over the last three decades. The annual “map of violence” produced by the Instituto Sangari registered at least 1 million murders between 1980 and last year.

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