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The biggest loss so far at World Cup 2014? Free expression

IFEX members are shining a light on the World Cup hosts as the violent suppression of street protests in Brazil puts demonstrators and journalists at risk

A boy wrapped in the Brazilian flag stands in front of policemen during a protest in Sao Paulo
A boy wrapped in the Brazilian flag stands in front of policemen during a protest in Sao Paulo

REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

What you need to know

When the World Cup is happening: 12 June to 13 July 2014

Where: Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, Salvador, Fortaleza, Recife, Porto Alegre, Natal, Cuiaba, Curitiba, Manaus

Main free expression issues in Brazil: Freedom of assembly, Attacks, Digital rights

Why IFEX members are shining a light on the World Cup hosts:
Protests that started in early 2013 against transport fee hikes in Rio de Janeiro quickly snowballed into a nationwide movement against the exorbitant costs of hosting the World Cup

Protesters and journalists have been violently suppressed. Between May 2013 and May 2014, there were at least 171 cases of violations against media professionals covering street protests

Four journalists have been killed in Brazil so far this year and none of the cases have been solved

Brazil faces considerable challenges in ensuring it can deliver on the promise of the new Marco Civil law that could make the country a leader in Internet freedom

Read on to find out what else IFEX members are saying and doing about free expression and the World Cup:

Security Manual for Protest Coverage in Brazil

  • Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism (ABRAJI) – Just in time for the World Cup, ABRAJI has developed a security guide for reporters with tips and anecdotes from professionals who were attacked, assaulted or arrested during recent protests in Brazil.

Brazil's own goal: Protests, police and the World Cup

  • ARTICLE 19 – The countdown to the 2014 World Cup has been marked by hundreds of thousands of Brazilians protesting against government corruption, unaccountable decision-making and the vast expenditure used to host the games, money which they believe would be better spent on public services. The state's response to these demonstrations has been one of increasing repression and violence, more suited to Brazil's years of military dictatorship.

Violence and impunity: Journalism in Brazil leading up to the World Cup

  • Canadian Journalists for Free Expression – While censorship and outdated Internet laws threaten journalistic integrity in Brazil, impunity remains one of the biggest concerns for journalists operating in the country. Although charges were laid in three cases of murdered journalists in 2013, many more have gone without justice.

Brazil: A new global internet referee?

  • Index on Censorship – In light of the crackdown on online journalists and bloggers covering the protests, considerable hopes are being placed on the new Marco Civil law, a progressive legal framework for Internet rights and online freedom of expression. The bill was signed into law on 23 April 2014, making Brazil the largest country in the world to enshrine net neutrality in its legal code.

Journalists under threat as protests grip Brazil

  • World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers – With the government providing few concrete assurances, it has been down to journalists to ensure that they are able to cover the World Cup and its tumultuous backdrop without the threat of violence.

Halftime for the Brazilian press

  • Committee to Protect Journalists - With presidential elections scheduled for October, the government is wary that violence and censorship have eroded human rights. Scrutiny from media industry groups and press freedom advocates, both domestic and international, has prompted the administration to take action.

Here's what IFEX members are saying about other World Cup countries:

Group of death: The worst World Cup countries for free expression

  • Index on Censorship - Index has looked at the countries taking part in arguably the biggest show on earth, and put together its own group of death - the freedom of expression edition. It consists of Cameroon, Iran, Nigeria and Russia.

Football in Iran: The perfect political token

  • ARTICLE 19 - Deemed as a 'fanatical football nation', football is undoubtedly an imbedded part of Iranian culture. A game where the people's and the government's connection with it is more complex than a player-spectator relationship.

    The Iranian women's national football team is pictured on 3 June 2011. Photo credit: REUTERS/Ali Jarekji

RWB produces match sheets for World Cup

  • Reporters Without Borders - Reporters Without Borders is using the FIFA World Cup in Brazil as the basis for a campaign to inform the public about respect for freedom of information in the participating countries.

Take action by joining PEN International's #KeepingScore campaign.

Keeping score at the World Cup

  • PEN International Tweet at government officials of the World Cup countries reminding them that freedom of expression is not a game.

At this point, would publish: "Home page"

Latest Tweet:

"The Iraninan authorities must immediately lift the fatwa against Rushdie and other artists, whose lives and safety…

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