With violent crimes a regular occurrence…protesters on the streets…and riots taking place before a ball has been kicked in anger…we ask a football industry insider their view on Brazil 2014.
A former professional footballer himself, Mark has travelled extensively throughout Europe as well as North and South America.
In his current role Mark is responsible for Stoke City’s scouting network, from U18 level through to the senior team. He works closely with the club manager Mark Hughes and club CEO Tony Scholes.
“travel security planning”
Mark was asked if any of Stoke City’s staff would be attending the World Cup and what preparation for the trip would take place. He replied, “Yes there will probably be about 3 to 5 of us going including the Manager. At present there is no set procedure in place for travel security planning and if we are travelling to anywhere contentious we would usually clear it through the CEO.”
He went on to say that he had regularly visited Rio over a 3 year period which allowed him to see how the upgrades to the stadium and infastructure had progressed.
“I was initially concerned by the lack of progress. But a lot of work has been done and I now believe they will be ready in terms of facilities.” He did highlight however the concern over fan safety.
“men with bricks hiding behind trees”
Fan safety in Brazil was recently highlighted following the friendly against England, which took place at the world renowned Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. TalkSport Radio presenter Adrian Durham was involved in an attempted robbery at knife point outside the stadium after the game.
“I wasn’t surprised by this when I heard,” he commented, “I’ve seen men with bricks hiding behind trees on the Copacabana strip, just waiting for people on their own.”
Although he has not personally had any problems in this part of the world whilst traveling he is well aware of the issues.
“A friend of mine, who works for a big club, was mugged after leaving a bar in town. This type of incident appears to be the most common.”
“mugged at gun point”
He has also heard the stories of fellow travellers who haven’t been so fortunate.
“On the plane back to the UK I have listened to plenty of horror stories from people who have been mugged at gun point.”
When asked from his experiences what the golden rule of visiting Rio was he said, “Simply don’t travel alone. Stay in a group and be aware of your surroundings, particularly when out at night. Rio is a great city and I am sure the the World Cup will be a spectacular event but make sure you plan ahead if it’s your first time.”
Brazil clearly has its problems, but that is much the same as South Africa did when it successfully hosted the event. The predictions of mass criminal activity that preceeded the World Cup in South Africa did not come to pass. However, better safe than sorry, so if you are planning to travel to Brazil ensure that you plan ahead and are fully aware of your surroundings as well as areas to avoid.