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Charity hands over human rights petition to FIFA

Widespread protests over the government corruption and the costs of the World Cup have hit Brazil Keystone

The Swiss charity Solidar handed over a petition on Monday to FIFA officials in Zurich to show its solidarity with protesters who are criticising the international football association’s preparations for the World Cup in Brazil.

Solidar Switzerland collected 28,000 signatures and personally handed them to FIFA President Sepp Blatter, the charity said in a statement on its website.

In his talk with the charity Blatter promised to campaign for fair working conditions with the Brazilian government, according to Solidar. He will meet again with the Swiss charity in the autumn to discuss concrete improvements with regard to preparations for the World Cup, which will take place in Brazil from June 12 to July 13, 2014.

Brazil is currently hosting the Confederations Cup, which is seen as a prelude to the 2014 FIFA World Cup. In the past few weeks, millions of anti-government protesters have taken to the streets in several Brazilian cities, demanding reforms of the corrupt political system. They are angry about high taxes, poor services and high World Cup spending.

Protesters and charities like Solidar claim that evictions, human rights violations and exploitation are overshadowing preparations for the World Cup. The biggest football celebration of all time will have a particularly negative effect on people who are already living in poverty, Solidar criticises.

150,000 people evicted

According to the protesters, more than 150,000 people will be evicted from their homes because of the World Cup. Street vendors fear for their livelihoods because sponsors demand exclusive sales rights for their merchandise.

The petition by Solidar criticises forced evictions and demands that FIFA not ban street vending or “clean up” the favelas to improve their image. It also calls for fair working conditions and wages on construction sites and in places where FIFA fan articles are manufactured.

Another bone of contention is FIFA’s status as a non-profit organisation. Because FIFA and World Cup sponsors such as Adidas, Coca-Cola and Budweiser will not have to pay taxes on their profits, the Brazilian population must bear the costs, Solidar said.

“Brazil will be left with a mountain of debt and social benefits will come under pressure. In the end, the 50 million poor of Brazil will pay for the World Cup,” Solidar Switzerland said. “For this reason, we demand that all those who benefit from the World Cup must pay taxes on their profits. This also applies to FIFA.”

Solidar Switzerland is founded by the Swiss trade unions and the Swiss Social Democrats.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR