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FIFA World Cup Safety in Brazil: What You Need to Know

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Photo Credit: Fábio Rodrigues Pozzebom of Agência Brasil

Photo Credit: Fábio Rodrigues Pozzebom of Agência Brasil

The 2014 FIFA World Cup is set to begin on June 12, and the event should bring an estimated 3.7 million people to Brazil’s 12 host cities. While soccer fans are gearing up for the big event, others are focused on the growing civil unrest in Brazil, including public discontent over how much revenue has gone into the event rather than the nation’s existing problems.

Find out what has happened, what you need to know, and how to experience the World Cup even if you’re not traveling to Brazil.

Riots in Brazil

Marches, rallies, and yes, some violence has been increasing throughout Brazil, with locals protesting the $11 billion being used by the Brazilian government for the World Cup. The protests began last year and were centered around the Confederations Cup, a prelude to the World Cup. Over a million protestors marched throughout the country to protest poor living and public service conditions, police brutality, corruption, and poor health care. Police responded with tear gas, pepper spray, and rubber bullets.

Flash forward to the larger upcoming World Cup, and the protests have only become larger and more frequent. In February, 15,000 protesters from the Landless Workers Movement (formed by rural workers for land reform) marched to Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff’s office building and attempted to invade it, and then fought with riot police. Dozens were injured.

What’s particularly interesting is the makeup of most of the protest groups: Teachers, union labor workers, and even police officers went on strike to protest. In April, there was even a two-day police strike.

What You Should Know

Protests before any large event are more or less commonplace around the globe—whether it’s the Olympics or the International Monetary Fund meetings. If you’re traveling to Brazil for the World Cup, you don’t need to be worried,  but you do need to be smart. No countries have issued full-scale travel alerts or warnings, but the UK and Australia foreign offices have issued special bulletins to their citizens detailing the situation.  Often in situations like this, it’s more important to know where NOT to go within a certain destination, and those bulletins can be helpful.

Should you buy travel insurance (trip interruption and cancellation insurance)? In theory, yes. But you must read the policy carefully before buying. Does your policy exclude civil unrest and street demonstrations from coverage?

No matter what, it’s a good idea to register your trip with the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) so the government can track you down in case of emergency. STEP is a free service provided by the government to citizens abroad informed of emergencies, be it civil unrest, terrorism, or a natural disaster. The government pushes out necessary information to registered travelers and tracks down U.S. citizens in the case of emergency. Enroll in STEP at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate, or online.

Where to Watch

If you still want to watch the games, but not vacation in Brazil at the same time, not to worry. It’s the most watched televised event in the world. Norwegian Cruise Line is showing the soccer matches on the Getaway, Freestyle, and Breakaway ships if you book from Miami to the Caribbean or from New York to Bermuda. The W South Beach Hotel in Miami is having a “Timeout Getaway” package, with Brazilian food and cocktails provided, and the games broadcasting throughout the hotel. In the Caribbean, you can stay at the Hotel Guanahani & Spa and cheer on your favorite team.

For more information about being prepared before you leave, check out:

By Cody Brooks for PeterGreenberg.com

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