News / Americas

World Cup Warm-up Tournament Underway in Brazil

Tahiti's goalkeeper Mikael Roche celebrates during Confederations Cup soccer match in Rio de Janeiro, June 20, 2013
Tahiti's goalkeeper Mikael Roche celebrates during Confederations Cup soccer match in Rio de Janeiro, June 20, 2013
Mike Richman
All eyes in the football world are on Brazil, where eight countries are now competing in the Confederations Cup, a warm-up for next year's much-anticipated World Cup in Brazil.

The consensus Confederations Cup favorites are Brazil, winner of two straight championships, and Spain, the defending World Cup champion.  The other countries in the Confederations Cup, which will conclude at the end of this month, are Japan, Mexico, Italy, Tahiti, Nigeria and Uruguay.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter called the Confederations Cup the "tournament of the champions."

“It is really the champions cup because the champions of all continents are there," Blatter said.  "It will be a great, great tournament on the sporting point of view.  But for us it’s also important to have a look on the organization because there will be a lot of interest also from the international media, but also from our organizing committee, and I would say also Brazil, but it's also a very good rehearsal for us.”

Brazil's Paulinho (2nd R) celebrates with his teammates after scoring a goal during their Confederations Cup Group A soccer match against Japan at Estadio Nacional in Brasilia, June 15, 2013.Brazil's Paulinho (2nd R) celebrates with his teammates after scoring a goal during their Confederations Cup Group A soccer match against Japan at Estadio Nacional in Brasilia, June 15, 2013.
x
Brazil's Paulinho (2nd R) celebrates with his teammates after scoring a goal during their Confederations Cup Group A soccer match against Japan at Estadio Nacional in Brasilia, June 15, 2013.
Brazil's Paulinho (2nd R) celebrates with his teammates after scoring a goal during their Confederations Cup Group A soccer match against Japan at Estadio Nacional in Brasilia, June 15, 2013.
The Confederations Cup kicked off last week, with Brazil beating Japan, 3-0 at Mané Garrincha Stadium in Brasilia.

Brazil and Japan already are assured of a place in the World Cup.  Brazil gets an automatic spot because it is the host country, and Japan has qualified from the Asian zone, as have Australia, Iran and South Korea.

To Blatter, it is fitting that Brazil is hosting the Confederations Cup and the World Cup.  Football in Brazil is played perhaps with more passion and art than anywhere else.

“It is a multi-cultural country [that] will connect all the people, and in football there is no difference, no social level," Blatter said.  "Everybody is a fan of football, everybody knows best of the game.  They are the best players, they are the best coaches and the best referees.”

Blatter also gushed over Brazil’s burgeoning economy.
 
“It’s like a continent, 200 million people, it’s the sixth [largest] world economy, important economy," he said.  "They are part of this famous, famous group of the upcoming economies, BRICS it's called, Brazil and the others, South Africa is also in, where we have played the World Cup.  So Brazil is a powerhouse, not only a powerhouse in football, it’s a powerhouse in economy.”

The Confederations Cup is being played in six Brazilian cities, and Blatter is hoping to see a strong show of sportsmanship.

“Play fair with respect and please, please don’t give us problems with racism or discrimination," Blatter said.  "Let’s show the world through the World Cup qualification now that really, really in football we are on the right track, and we can show the world there can be a very high level competition, very tough competition, but in the spirit of fair play.”

Dissension, however, has surfaced off the field.  In protests that have spread across Brazil in the past week, demonstrators are voicing anger at the government, in part, for investing billions of dollars in stadiums and other projects for the Confederations Cup, the World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, which are also in Brazil.

The Confederations Cup continues through the championship match in Rio de Janeiro on June 30.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Video Washington Week: Focus on Cuba, North Korea

President Obama, lawmakers out of town for holidays but many remain transfixed with US-Cuba thaw, Sony Pictures hack
More

Health Minister Named as Haiti's New Interim Prime Minister

Announcement is part of effort to resolve a mounting political crisis over long-delayed elections
More

Kerry: US-Cuba Thaw Will Advance Interests for Both

Secretary of state says 11 million people of Cuba have waited far too long - more than half a century - to 'fulfill their democratic aspirations' and build closer ties with rest of world
More

Cuba's Famed Cigars Get a Foot in Door of US Market

Under new rules to be implemented soon, US will make it easier for some Americans to travel to Cuba and they will be able to return with $100 worth of alcohol, tobacco
More

Tourism, Farm Groups See Bigger Business With Cuba

'We are the closest major food producer that Cuba has,' an American Farm Bureau Federation spokesman notes
More

Castro Lauds US Outreach, Says Cuba to Remain Communist

In speech to lawmakers, Cuba's president says economic reforms will be accelerated, yet changes will be gradual
More