The Brazilian bishops' conference has criticised the country's government and organisers of the World Cup for putting the competition above the basic needs of people, The Catholic Herald reports.
The bishops said there was an 'inversion of priorities, with public money that should have been used in health, education, sanitation, transportation and security' being used to build enormous stadiums.
With the World Cup kicking off this morning with Brazil taking on Croatia, the conference also criticised organisers for the removal of families and communities so that stadiums could be constructed.
'In places like Brasilia and Manaus, huge stadiums have been built for the competition. These cities do not even have strong football teams, so that after the Cup we are wondering what they will be used for,' said Archbishop Anuar Battisti of Maringa, head of the tourism department at the bishops' conference.
The bishops also criticised the decision-making process, which 'excluded millions of citizens from participating and being informed' about specific plans for the World Cup.
Archbishop Battisti said the Church now wants the government to guarantee that people living on the streets will be secure, not harassed and expelled from their locations by police and government officials, as some local media have reported in cities hosting the games. It also asks that no police violence be perpetrated against street demonstrators.
In turn, the bishops committed to help fans and players have access to moments of spirituality and encounters with God, remaining a strong presence throughout the World Cup.
Brazilian bishops: ‘Government wrong to prioritise World Cup over needs of population’ (The Catholic Herald)