Brazil prosecutors try to halt government World Cup ads

Ads touting benefits of World Cup are ‘absurdly divorced from reality’, prosecutors say

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Federal prosecutors in Brazil have asked a court to suspend the airing of government advertisements touting the benefits that the World Cup will bring to the country, saying the ads are “absurdly divorced from reality.”

The federal attorney general’s office in Goias state presented a civil demand late Monday to a judge calling for the commercials to be pulled immediately. The ads compare the government’s spending on stadiums for the tournament to investment in public transportation or education.

Prosecutor Ailton Benedito said that “besides not coinciding with the reality, the content of the publicity campaign reaches the collective unconsciousness with the subliminal message that the federal government has fulfilled its promises.”

Government officials did not immediately respond on Tuesday to telephone calls and email messages from The Associated Press seeking comment.

The suit focuses on two ads of 30 and 60 seconds, which Brazil’s government launched this month apparently in response to protests against World Cup spending. Protesters say the money could have been better spent on other things in a country plagued by poor public services.

In one of the ads, a women says that “the Cup is good for Brazil” and states that while the cost of building stadiums for the tournament is $3.5 billion, the government spent 100 times that on health and education polices over the last four years.

The ads show highways, airports and trains, saying the World Cup will generate an economic influx of almost $63.8 billion. “Two hundred million Brazilians are already winning. It is our Cup. The Cup of Cups,” said one of the ads, which have appeared on television and the Internet.

Audits have concluded that the cost of stadium construction reached $4.2 billion, almost four times the figure estimated in a document published in 2007 by the international soccer governing body, FIFA, a few days after Brazil was selected to host this year’s World Cup.

Benedito calls the ads misleading, since overall spending on the World Cup is much higher. The official cost for World Cup projects is $11.5 billion.

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