Brazilian Court to Decide If World Cup Law Constitutional

A Brazilian law governing the conditions of next year’s soccer World Cup is unconstitutional, according to a case filed with the country’s Supreme Court by Prosecutor General Roberto Gurgel.

Elements of the 2012 legislation, including tax exemptions for soccer’s governing body and its sponsors, violate Brazilian law, according to a statement posted on the prosecutor general’s website. Gurgel filed the complaint in June after receiving a report from a task force created in 2009 to monitor regulations and public spending on the quadrennial event.

Supreme Court Judge Ricardo Lewandowski asked for more information before he’ll make a ruling, according to a spokeswoman at the Supreme Court, who asked not to be identified in line with court policy. The court is in recess until August.

Actions questioning the constitutionality of new laws are “quite common” in Brazil, according to Eduardo Carlezzo, a lawyer with Sao Paulo-based Carlezzo Advogados Associados who is not connected with the case.

Brazil’s government has committed almost 30 billion reais ($13.2 billion) for projects linked to the World Cup. Gurgel’s case was filed June 17 as Brazil hosted the Confederations Cup, a test event for next year’s competition.

Brazilian Law

The Confederations Cup was played against the backdrop of demonstrations as Brazilians took to the streets in record numbers to protest a range of issues including the cost of staging the World Cup, the most-watched event in sports.

“FIFA cannot comment on this pending procedure,” the soccer body said yesterday via e-mail.

Brazil’s advocate general’s office is still preparing its arguments to defend the World Cup law, it said in an e-mailed statement. The legislation was delayed several times in Brazil’s Congress before it was eventually signed into law by President Dilma Rousseff as opponents claimed FIFA was demanding too much power.

The lawsuit “won’t have any decisive impact in the organization of the World Cup and will not affect any of the national federations that qualify for the event,” Carlezzo said in an e-mail.

Christian Fernandes Gomes da Rosa, a partner at Tojal, Teixeira Ferreira, Serrano & Renault Advogados Associados, a Sao Paulo-based law firm, said the lawsuit was “very unlikely” to be successful.

Assume Liability

“This kind of legal action is common and I cannot see the Supreme Court ruling in favor,” he said in a phone interview.

The claim also says the World Cup law is also in violation of the constitution because it requires Brazil to assume liability for any losses or damages to the event. The advocate general’s office said that was what Brazil agreed to when it told FIFA it would stage the tournament in 2007.

Deputy Sports Minister Luis Fernandes said the Brazilian government and FIFA engaged in tough negotiations before coming to an agreement over what would be included in the bill. Fernandes said in a June 29 interview that the host nation resisted FIFA’s demands on issues ranging from ticketing to a specific clause related to counterterrorism.

Brazilian Politics

Fernandes said not all the soccer body’s requirements for the temporary structures built outside the six Confederations Cup stadiums were met, and that local officials rejected a request for the provision of Segways, two-wheeled motorized vehicles.

“The hardest thing is that they don’t understand the sensibility and complexity of Brazilian politics,” he said. “My own experience is if you are firm in defining what you understand to be of national interest, you can make FIFA waiver or make concessions on a number of things.”

Earlier this year, FIFA’s top administrative official, Jerome Valcke, said it can be more difficult to host the 32-team event in countries with strong democratic traditions.

“I will say something which is crazy, but less democracy is sometimes better for organizing a World Cup,” Valcke said at a symposium in Zurich.

Russia will stage the event in 2018 before it moves to Qatar in 2022.

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