Reviewing the impact on human rights of the Brazil World Cup

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This paper explores the impact that the 2014 FIFA world cup had on human
rights in Brazil. It begins by giving a brief overview of how sport events can
impact on rights, both positively and negatively, from acting as a catalyst to
promote political reforms, to placing restrictions on people’s liberty and freedom
of speech. Of particular importance is the analysis of the organiser’s rhetoric
and its many positive, virtuous statements about the benefits of the sport event,
which is then used in this paper as a benchmark with which to help evaluate
the actual impacts on rights. It is an approach which adapts Chomsky’s critical
audit approach whereby the ‘truth of intentions’ are interrogated against the
actual ‘truth of outcomes’ and the power of elites is critically evaluated (Edgely,
2014, p32).

Methodologically the paper applies the theoretical push/pull impact rights
model developed by Adams and Piekarz (2015), in order to critically scrutinise
the impacts that mega-events have on human rights. This model complements
other frameworks, such as Gratton and Preuss’s (2008) three dimensional
legacy cube, based on the; positive or negative impacts; planned and
unplanned impacts; and the tangible and intangible impacts. It also adopts a
Universalist human rights position as an underpinning foundation. Rather
simply, this means that HR and any improvements of, or to, them is
considered as something positive, whilst situations where HR are eroded are
seen as negative. It primarily uses a variety of secondary data bases (e.g.
Polity IV, Amnesty International, Freedom House etc.) with which to triangulate
and assess the variety, magnitude and direction of impacts to human rights.
Whilst the results are still in the process of being analysed, preliminary analysis
indicate a mixed picture, or a complex mosaic of positive and negative impacts.
Of particular concern, however, is what might be called the ‘truthiness’ (Colbert,
2005) surrounding the 2014 world cup, which embedded processes that
ensured that dominant ideological sport event rhetoric swamped minority
disagreements. Hence commodification and commercialism in the context of
the mega-event may provide a context for human rights to be challenged by
accepting J.S. Mill’s concern for the possible dangers of the tyranny of the
majority. These issues are also considered in relation to Agenda 2020. We
conclude by exploring some of the implications for the management of human
rights before, during and after the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEASM - Dublin
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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