Brazil­ian ath­letes protest against new min­is­ter


A group of Brazil­ian ath­letes is con­demn­ing the ap­point­ment of a new sports min­is­ter who has vir­tu­ally no back­ground in sports, say­ing the min­istry is be­ing used merely for “po­lit­i­cal bar­gain­ing.”

The non- gov­ern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion Ath­letes For Brazil said Mon­day it was “dis­ap­pointed” with last week’s decision by Pres­i­dent Dilma Rouss­eff to re­place Aldo Re­belo with George Hil­ton, who de­scribes him­self as a ra­dio and tele­vi­sion pre­sen­ter, as well as a the­olo­gian. He is also an evan­gel­i­cal pas­tor.

The 43-year-old

Hil­ton, who will be the gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial in charge of help­ing or­ga­nize the 2016 Rio Olympics, had very few projects re­lated to sports is­sues through­out his po­lit­i­cal ca­reer.

Re­belo, who was in charge of Brazil’s World Cup prepa­ra­tions, is leav­ing to lead the Sci­ence, Tech­nol­ogy and In­no­va­tion min­istry.

Ath­letes For Brazil said Dunga, Kaka, Dani Alves, Roge­rio Ceni, Cafu, Leonardo, Jorginho and Rubens Bar­richello are among its mem­bers.

“We de­mand a lot more re­spect and at­ten­tion to ev­ery­thing re­lated to sports in Brazil, some­thing that is far from hap­pen­ing con­sid- er­ing the cri­te­ria, or the lack of, used to choose the new min­is­ter,” the or­ga­ni­za­tion said in a state­ment. “Un­for­tu­nately, for years the sports min­istry has been used for po­lit­i­cal bar­gain­ing. It’s not about who’s the best per­son for the job, it’s about which party has the right al­liances.”

The or­ga­ni­za­tion said min­is­ters have been cho­sen de­spite not hav­ing any “fa­mil­iar­ity” with sports, which “cre­ates great dam­age to sports and to the coun­try in a sec­tor which is re­spon­si­ble for sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ments in mega events.”

The Brazil­ian soc­cer con­fed­er­a­tion ex­pressed its support for the new min­is­ter.

Hil­ton is a mem­ber of the Brazil­ian Repub­li­can Party, which said the invitation to lead the sports min­istry came as “recog­ni­tion” for the party’s good work head­ing the fish­ing min­istry the last two years.

Re­belo, a mem­ber of the Com­mu­nist Party of Brazil, also had very few con­nec­tions to sports when he took over the post. His ad­min­is­tra­tion was marked by a dif­fi­cult re­la­tion­ship with FIFA be­fore the World Cup, although in the end both sides worked well to­gether and the tour­na­ment was con­sid­ered a suc­cess de­spite mi­nor set­backs.

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