News Stories

World Cup 2014: Brazilian Alumni Share Insight

By Margarette Zeller & Russell Thacker


Earlier this summer the world came together to participate in the 2014 World Cup FIFA tournament. Several NDU International Alumni from Brazil played key roles in addressing World Cup security. We looked to them for insight into how Brazil handled security during the World Cup. The following alumni were interviewed for this article:

  • CAPT (R) Fernando Souto, Brazil, ICAF Class of 2002
  • COL Gerson Silva, Brazil, ES/ICAF Class of 2007
  • Mr. Fabio Lustosa, Brazil, CISA Class of 2008
  • COMM Rodrigo Bartolamei, Brazil, CISA Class of 2010
  • MG Paulo Pinheiro Lari, Brazil, CISA Class of 2012

Q: What was the biggest security concern going into the World Cup? Did that concern change once the games began?

(Lustosa) Actually the security planning of FIFA World Cup 2014 has begun in the aftermath of the confirmation of Brazil as host nation to the games, in 2007. Since then, the country started to develop strategies to enhance its capabilities in order to cope with the numerous challenges an event like that brings about – Including the search for effectiveness of response and mutual cooperation among the several governmental agencies involved in the process. The government actions regarding security for the World Cup were preceded by a series of risk evaluations, performed systematically by Brazilian Intelligence Agency (ABIN) throughout the 12 host cities of the event, and condensed in several reports. The main goal of such research effort was to anticipate, at a local level, potential security threats (domestic or international), as well as infrastructure chokes, indicating then the weaknesses and strong points previously “scanned” by ABIN to the local authorities (decision-makers) in both municipal and state levels. In face of this methodology, each city had a different pattern of security risk, what reflected in the spending of the several states involved in actions of public security, defense and Intelligence.

(Bartolamei) Crime and terrorism could be considered the major security concerns for professionals during the first stage of planning. Despite Brazil’s welcoming tradition, security forces have never set aside the possibility of an act of terror within the country, considering billions of people around the world who would watch the games.

(Silva) The biggest concern was the protest outrages caused by groups of radical protestors, for example black blocs, and specific actions of organized crime. The plans did not exclude terrorism or sabotage actions. The control of border posts with neighboring countries was intensified and the monitoring of sea, air, and land were strengthened. The instruments of Cyber security and defense were intensely activated in order to capture suspicious data in social networks.

(Pinheiro Lari) From the end of 2012, Brazilian authorities were seeking to determine what threats could affect security in World Cup 2014. 2013 offered the first signs of discontent on the internal political scene. The scenario worsened at the start of 2014, when there were several protests against Dilma Russef’s Government and the large expenditures on World Cup infrastructure, associated with numerous complaints about diversions of funds for propaganda in the next elections in Brazil (scheduled for October 2014). Focusing on this issue led to security systems being structured, trained and deployed. In the weeks leading up to the games, peaceful protests increased but groups of professional agitators who infiltrated the rallies were identified. They aimed to destabilize the social movement by imputing to them responsibility for the chaos, when generating disturbances between demonstrators and police forces. Thus, the focus of attention of the safety system became the fans that came to the country, among them thieves, robbers, drug dealers, and Ticket’s Mafias (scalping tickets) from around the world.

Q: Brazil has increased federal spending for security during the World Cup. On which security measures is that federal spending being concentrated?

(Bartolamei) Integration: that can be seen as the key investment Brazil has made for the World Cup. Despite Brazil’s budget allocated to Defense and Justice Ministries improvements, a significant amount has been reserved for the Command and Control Centers, which have been built at regional and national levels, with the attribution to put together representatives of all institutions involved in the process of providing security. At those Centers, federal, state and counties institutions, no matter if civilian or military, nor directly or indirectly involved with the operation, work together towards the same goal: to have a safe event for the authorities, athletes, tourists and population.
(Lustosa) The Brazilian spending for security was based on the search for integration and effective cooperation among all the state actors involved, at all levels. In that context, the Federal Government has took the lead on initiatives such as the training of state forces, by sharing the expertise of Police, Intelligence and Defense agencies. Moreover, each host city had an Intelligence-based hub (Regional Intelligence Centers), as well as Defense and Security ones. Everyone of them was permanently connected with the decisionmaking centers in Brasilia, and able to respond timely to any security contingency during the event.

(Pinheiro Lari) The Brazilian Government gave a number of investment made in the 2014 World Cup. According to the official balance sheet, there were 11.6 billion dollars spent on works for the tournament, including stadiums and infrastructure. Of this value, 83.6% are out of the public coffers, with only 2 billion dollars are from private initiative. Most of the spending was made for transport and airports. Taken together, the public transport and airports gave 60.1% of investments. It is important to emphasize that the amount of money spent with ground transportation, airports, ports, and communications also includes security measures like camera systems, land and aerial sensors, x-ray equipment, bomb-destroying (or detecting) robots, communication equipment, and establishment of Tactical Coordination Centers.

Q: How did Brazil prepare for possible terrorist acts during the World Cup?

(Bartolamei) Brazil prepared for a possible terror act as most countries in the world. In a preventive perspective, Brazil has been working hard with intelligence exchange with many countries and I can say that we have a solid structure in the Brazilian Intelligence System. Additionally, Federal Police has recently installed the International Police Cooperation Center, with 220 police officers from all 32 countries in the competition and representatives from UN, Interpol and Ameripol. On the other side, in a counterterror approach, Brazil has also prepared and integrated Special Forces from Defense and Police branches to act together, under the coordination of Army’s Special Operations Force. In addition, a CBRN battalion has been deployed to the operation and to take necessary measures if something undesirable happens.

(Silva) The Brazilian government has intensified a number of measures of internal and external intelligence. For example, a diversified and expanded international cooperation to feed the database of extremist groups and cheerleaders violent, with the aim of monitoring the movements and the traffic groups by these countries.

(Lustosa) In a first moment, there was a strong effort initiated by ABIN 5 years ago, towards the preparation of “think tank” teams composed of Counterterrorism (CT) Analysts throughout the country (both civilian and military). The goal was to better understand the dynamics of terrorism in the current geopolitical scenario and its political repercussions to Brazil in the security environment of the World Cup. It is also important to stress the federal and state investments in security infrastructure, which have provided enhanced response capabilities to CT incidents. During the World Cup, all the host cities had full-time specialized decontamination teams, anti-bomb squads and CT Special Forces ready to come into action 24/7, if necessary.   Other positive aspect of Brazilian’s CT planning was the effective cooperation of other nations’ security services, in order to prevent and neutralize hostile actions of such nature within the country.

Q: How has Brazil collaborated with other countries to address specific security concerns during the World Cup?

(Souto) As a result of the analysis of the events observed in World Cup 2010, South Africa was recommended by FIFA and adopted by Brazilian Government as a model of multinational cooperation involving International Police Forces. An international police center was created in Brazil, involving agents in uniforms representing all of the countries in competition and some observers. Besides that, uniformed agents from the countries playing the games were assigned also for each stadium in order to identify risks among their country football (soccer) fans. Those agents, without carrying guns, were essential for identifying potential risks. No violence was observed during the games.

(Pinheiro Lari) In addition to these types of centers mentioned before, there also was the International Police Cooperation Center, composed of representatives of public security forces of all countries involved in the World Cup and of neighboring countries of Brazil. The results of this cooperation could be seen in the arrest of Jose Diaz-Barajas, a well-known Mexican drug trafficker, when this Center received reports of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), of which he and also the neighboring country (Colombia) trafficking bosses are trying to get into Brazil. This was only one case of the benefits of cooperation for this event.

Q: What was done to encourage tourists to be aware of and prepared for possible dangers during their stay in Brazil during the World Cup?

(Souto) Massive support was provided for the tourists, implemented by local agencies to facilitate their stay involving special services tailored for them. Among those facilities, it is important to mention, multilingual announcements particularly in public services as public transportation.

(Pinheiro Lari) In addition to the fifteen existing fixed Tourist Police stations, the agency Rio Turismo (Riotur) has installed seven temporary stations, including one at the Maracana Stadium. About 150 employees circulated by points of interest with a totem stuck in backpacks with the bilingual inscription: “May I help you?” In Rio, the tourists faced a recurring problem in high season periods: the queues to visit points of interest, especially the Christ Redeemer (Cristo Redentor) and the Sugar Loaf (Pão de Açúcar). In some subway stations, officials used megaphones to guide visitors in Portuguese and English.

Q: How has your training at NDU prepared you to deal with the security challenges posed by the event?

(Souto) In my position working with security and dealing with a foreign team, the expertise developed during my tour at NDU was extremely important. As a Team Liaison Security Officer (TSLO), my goal was to link Public Security with the Internal Security apparatus brought by the team (Security Officer and Security Staff).

(Bartolamei) The strategic thought developed during that year at NDU certainly contributed to my mission to coordinate the security of all dignitaries, athletes and referees in Rio de Janeiro, especially because this city will host the final match and we expect around 20 Chiefs of State or Government to come to watch the game.

(Silva) I am working in the academic environment and had the opportunity to discuss and propose measures to improve the safety of Brazilian system for events with this complexity. The training I got at NDU was essential to strengthen my convictions about the security of a country, especially involving people from other countries. In this sense, the education provided by the NDU broadened my knowledge based on the great American experience in planning and executing activities like this.

(Lustosa) My background as an NDU ICTF has provided me a better capability of seeing “over the hills” on terms of Counterterrorism. The understanding of the very roots of this political phenomenon has been crucial to help me advising my government on our CT security policies. In the case of the World Cup 2014, this NDU contribution to my analytical expertise was even more clear, as well as the good results it brought to my career as an Intelligence Officer.

(Pinheiro Lari)Please, note: we had just one terrorist attack during the World Cup. It took place in Belo Horizonte when Germany defeated Brazil 7 x 1. It really was a “dirty bomb” in our morale, and in our soccer ability (sorry, I can’t resist a joke).

Q: What advice would you give to other countries preparing for similar events?

(Souto) Events similar to World Cup, Olympic Games and so on must consider the needs of a join security system involving security elements from all of the government levels, as well as Federal, State and Cities security elements.

(Bartolamei) I would suggest learning from the past and assuming that with integration, within borders and also with other nations, this hard mission can be better accomplished, and the risks of a major incident minimized.

(Silva) Planning in every detail with a dynamic interrelation with the instruments of intelligence.

(Lustosa) The pursuit of an effective interagency cooperation (both domestic and international) based upon the full understanding of the social and cultural environment by all the government branches are key factors for the success of any security planning in mega events like the World Cup – especially in developing countries.

(Pinheiro Lari) Resuming the idea about our experience, I can tell them “be prepared to expect the unexpected.”

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