Swiss group seeks ‘fair’ World Cup from FIFA

Campaigners demanding a "fair" 2014 World Cup in Brazil handed a 28,000-signature petition to football's global governing body FIFA on Monday, amid mass protests in the host nation over poor public services and graft.

Swiss group seeks 'fair' World Cup from FIFA
FIFA's headquarters in Zurich. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Solidar Switzerland said it was time to "blow the whistle" on FIFA boss Sepp Blatter.

"Evictions, human rights violations and exploitation are overshadowing preparations for the world championship," the group said.

"The people affected are those already living in poverty." 

FIFA, based in the Swiss city of Zurich, has insisted the protest wave in Brazil is a domestic issue.

But Solidar Switzerland said FIFA should face up to its responsibility as it owns the rights to the World Cup, its main money-spinners.

It demanded that FIFA speak out against an image conscious clean-up of Brazil's working class "favela" districts, charging that more than 150,000 people will have been driven from their homes by the time the tournament kicks off in June 2014.

It also slammed restrictions on some 300,000 street vendors, inspired by a desire to protect World Cup branding rights, saying it would deprive the poorest of their livelihoods.

Nor should FIFA should stay silent about labour exploitation on World Cup construction sites and in factories making tournament souvenirs for fans, it said.

Solidar Switzerland also blasted tax breaks for both FIFA and World Cup sponsors such as Adidas, Coca-Cola and Budweiser.

They "refuse to allow their billions of profits to be taxed in Brazil," the group said.

"But the Brazilian population must bear the cost of the World Cup," it said.

"It is clear where this leads: Brazil will be left with a mountain of debt and social benefits will come under pressure.

"In the end, the 50 million poor of Brazil will pay for the World Cup," unless those who benefit are taxed.

Solidar Switzerland underlined that 2010 World Cup host South Africa was left with debts of almost $3 billion, while FIFA's profits hit $3.2 billion.

Polls show that three-quarters of Brazilians back the protests but that two-thirds are overall in favour of the World Cup, despite anger at the billions of dollars the event is costing, money many feel could be better spent on education, transport and housing.

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‘Overwhelmed’: Unaware Swiss super fan stunned about viral fame

A Swiss super fan who has shot to fame after images of him watching Switzerland’s win over France went viral told the media he was unaware of his viral fame - but that he was overwhelmed with the world’s attention.

‘Overwhelmed’: Unaware Swiss super fan stunned about viral fame
Image: Twitter.

Like most Swiss football fans, Luca Loutenbach’s Monday evening – highlighted by a surprise upset win over the current World Champions and tournament favourite France – went about as well as you could have expected. 

But while his side were putting on the pressure through late goals to push the game into extra time, Loutenbach’s image was being shared across the world. 

Two pictures of Loutenbach, juxtaposed from before and after Switzerland scored an equaliser in the 90th minute to send the game to extra time, were widely shared. 

The images were even shared by Sadiq Kahn, the mayor of London, who congratulated Switzerland and said the images summed up the beauty of football. 

On Tuesday, Loutenbach spoke with Swiss tabloid Blick to tell the story. He said he had no idea about the images as his phone had no reception in Romania – and only found out after the game. 

“I didn’t have a network during the game. But some fans around me were connected to the internet and quickly realized what was happening. What an incredible buzz!” said the man from the canton of Jura. 

While Switzerland have made it further than they have in their history in the tournament, Loutenbach is far from a bandwagon fan. He told Blick he’s seen around 50 national team games before. 

“It’s the most beautiful day in the history of Swiss football, let’s not be afraid of saying it. It is the accomplishment of the immense work of the ASF (Federation), of (coach) Petkovic and of the whole team” he said.