Disabled people in Brazil’s World Cup: what’s the cost of dignity?

by Roberto Amado - 2014.01.07
Disabled people in Brazil’s World Cup: what’s the cost of dignity?
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The World Cup is a big challenge for Brazil, especially related to accessibility for physical disabled people to the stadiums. Brazilian cities are not really prepared to allow broad access to those who only can get around with a wheelchair, for example, and very little has been done to improve these conditions - although there are about 27 millions of Brazilians (about 14 % population ) with some kind of disability .

The construction and renovation of 12 stadiums for the World Cup has been trying to meet these concerns. The Ministry of Tourism has invested $ 50 million in accessibility for nine cities where the matches will occur, aiming to allocate at least 1 % of the total capacity of settings for people with disabilities.

However, in the Mane Garrincha Stadium in Brasilia, where is going to occur seven World Cup matches, were reserved only 154 seats for the obese people and those with reduced mobility, plus 156 places for wheelchairs. It is less than 1 % , since the stadium holds 71,000 people. Among the 12 new stadiums , the best prepared is Castelão, in Fortaleza, which is going to receive six World Cup matches: 2.4 % of seats are reserved for disabled people.

For this reason, the former football player Romario, now a congressman, has criticized the works of stadiums: "In addition to the inadequate number of places for the disabled people, there are problems on the outside of the stadiums, as parking spaces, sidewalks in good condition and access ramps", he says. Denise of Albuquerque, from Accessibility Committee, ensures that the stadiums are not prepared as they should: "our legislation is modern, but most stadiums does not meet accessibility standards "

Jurandir de Souza is a wheelchair man who has been at Mane Garrincha stadium in Brasilia to watch a Brazilian Championship's game and pointed out some flaws in the structure for disabled people."The parking spaces are too far from the stadium, there are no signs or guidance on the way to reach the seats and there are some passages too narrow for a wheelchair", he complains.

There are still seven stadiums to be finished but their projects do not properly contemplated accessibility. "What we expect is that these projects will be modified now", says Denise of Albuquerque. The contractors, however, resist, alleging that the projects are in accordance with the law and changes would cause higher costs. "Certainly the implementation of these changes will increase the cost of construction. Yet, have the human rights and the dignity of the citizen really a cost?," asks Kleber Santos, representative of the National Council of Engineers.

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