By LILY KUZMINZKI, age 9
Mentored by ELIZABETH SAHNER
From June 12 to July 13, 2014, Brazil hosted the 2014 World Cup, organized by the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA). Brazil built new stadiums in cities across the country for the month-long tournament. Brazil is also currently preparing for the 2016 Olympics, which will use some of the same venues as this year’s World Cup. The rush to be ready for international crowds has placed construction workers under stress and sometimes put them in unsafe situations.
The strain on construction workers has gotten worse in 2014 but is not new. According to the BBC, in September 2013, an investigation found that construction workers working on the São Paulo airport were living in “slave-like conditions” in camps near the building site. As of July 2014, there had been eight deaths due to accidents at World Cup construction sites.
Workers have also faced unfair treatment by their employers. In April, the Associated Press reported on a strike at a World Cup stadium in the city of Curitiba, about 500 miles southwest of Rio de Janeiro. That report stated that more than 100 electrical technicians and cleaning workers went on strike because they had not been paid the salaries they were promised. The strike lasted for nine days and ended when the organizers decided to pay the workers full salaries. Workers in other cities have threatened to strike in response to similar conditions.
In March 2014, FIFA and the local World Cup organizing committee released a statement about the most recent worker death at that time, saying that ”safety is paramount.” Still, now that the World Cup is over, the whole world will be observing how Brazil handles the upcoming Olympics.