Strikes, riots and revolts – the hidden history of the Group C nations

By Martin Smith | 14 June 2014
£7 billion can be found for the World Cup, no money can be found the the urban poor

£7 billion can be found for the World Cup, no money can be found the the urban poor

The football maybe glorious, but much of the world’s media are ignoring the protests that are taking place in Brazil against FIFA and poverty. Brazilian police are rounding up protestors and jailing them.

A group of about 100 protesters in the city of Salvador — where the Netherlands beat Spain 5-1 on Friday — tried to march toward the FIFA Fan Fest viewing area.Before the protesters could get within several blocks of the Fan Fest area, police opened fire with stun grenades and tear, halting their march.

So while you are watching the game, remember those Brazilians fighting for a better world.

The purpose of this blog is to remind us all of the hardship and poverty behind all the flag waving.

Over the last two days we have ran an alternative look at the nations in Group A and Group B. Today we take a look at the countries in Group C.

Group C

Group C

Group C


FIFA world ranking: 8

Place in world economic league table: 34

Civil rights issues:

“The government continued to express a commitment to human rights. Despite this, there were few tangible improvements in the overall human rights situation. Civilians – especially Indigenous Peoples, Afro-descendent and peasant farmer communities, human rights defenders, community leaders and trade unionists – continued to bear the brunt of the human rights consequences of the long-running internal armed conflict.”

“At least 17 extrajudicial executions by security force personnel in which the victim was falsely presented as a “guerrilla killed in combat” were reported in the first half of 2011.”

“Paramilitaries, sometimes with the collusion or acquiescence of the security forces, continued to commit serious human rights violations, including killings and enforced disappearances, as well as social cleansing operations in poor urban neighbourhoods. Their victims were mainly trade unionists, human rights defenders and community leaders, as well as members or representatives of Indigenous Peoples and Afro-descendent and peasant farmer communities.”

“The work of human rights activists continued to be undermined by killings, threats, judicial persecution and the theft of sensitive case information.”

“Women human rights defenders and community leaders, especially those working on land issues, were threatened and killed…Women human rights organizations, especially those working with displaced women and survivors of sexual violence, were also threatened.”

The AFL-CIO Solidarity Center, states that 37 trade union activists were murdered in Colombia in the 1st half of 2013 alone.

Death penalty: NO

Rich and poor:

In Colombia, 49.1% of the wealth is owned by the top 10% and 0.9% of the countries wealth for the bottom 10%.

According to the United Nations over 6 million Colombians live in extreme poverty.


What started as a rural peasant uprising against the US – Colombian Free Trade Agreement in August 2013 turned into nationwide strike. It involved miners, teachers, medical professionals, truckers, and students. On its 7th day; 200,000 people blocked roads and railways.

The protests and strikes, were met with heavy crackdown from Colombia’s police, with human rights organisation Bayaca reporting shootings, torture, sexual assault, severe tear-gassing, arbitrary arrests, and other abuses on the part of state agents against the protestors.

Player to watch: James Rodriguez (midfield)

It’s not easy being a football player for Colombia, Andrés Escobar, was a Colombian footballer who was murdered as a result of his own goal in the 1994 World Cup against the United States. This caused gambling losses to several powerful drug lords.


FIFA world ranking: 12

Place in world economic league table: 34

Civil rights issues:

“Allegations of torture and other ill-treatment in immigration detention facilities and police stations, during arrest and/or detention, persisted.”

“Inhuman and degrading detention conditions in immigration detention facilities, particularly in the Evros region, persisted. Asylum-seekers and irregular migrants, including unaccompanied minors, continued to be detained for prolonged periods.
In March, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture took the exceptional step of publicly condemning Greece’s continued failure over many years to take measures to improve very poor detention conditions.”

“There were reported failures by police officers to protect third country nationals from racially motivated attacks.”

“The living conditions in many Roma settlements in Greece continued to be a cause of concern. A community of around 800 Roma in the village of Examilia (Korinthia) reportedly lacked access to clean water, drainage and electricity and lived in appalling sanitary conditions.”

Death penalty: NO

Poor detention conditions and severe overcrowding continued to be reported in many prisons including Chania, Korydallos, and Thiva women’s prison. The European Court of Human Rights found against Greece, stating that the conditions there amounted to inhuman or degrading treatment.

Rich and poor:

According to ELSTAT, 2012, the income share of the wealthiest 20% of the population is 6.6 times larger than the share of the poorest 20% of the population. In addition, the 25% of households earning the lowest income accounted for 8.7%of Greece’s GDP, while households with the highest inflows account for 47% of GDP.

Official figures show that a million people lost their jobs over the past three years. This is from a workforce of about five million. Those in work lost a quarter of their wages over the same period. A further decline is forecast for this year.

Around 28% of all families struggle to buy food.


greece strike

There have been 30 general strikes against austerity in Greece since 2009.

The latest took place in April 2014. Socialist Worker reported on the actions that took place in the run up to the general strike.

“Tens of thousands of people demonstrated in Syntagma Square outside Greece’s parliament on Sunday. The government had hoped to spring a surprise on people as parliament sat in emergency session to vote on yet another austerity package. But a last minute call from the trade unions and the left got this magnificent response.

“The demo’s size brought back memories of the Occupy movement in Syntagma. All the sections of the left were there and a wave of strikes is unfolding. Television technicians and journalists struck over the weekend to protest a “reform” that downgrades technicians. There were no main news bulletins. Seafarers started rolling 48-hour strikes on Monday morning.”

Player to watch: Kostas Katsouranas (midfield)


FIFA world ranking: 23

Place in world economic league table: 99

Civil rights issues:

“During the first four months of the year, pro-Gbagbo security forces extrajudicially executed and arrested people during demonstrations, in the streets or in their homes. Some were victims of enforced disappearance and most were Dioulas, a generic term designating those with a Muslim name or from the north of Côte d’Ivoire or other countries in the sub-region.”

“Pro-Gbagbo militia members raped women accused of supporting Alassane Ouattara, in some cases with the involvement of security forces loyal to the former President. FRCI members were also responsible for rape and other crimes of sexual violence against women and girls.”

Anti French Government protests in the Ivory Coast (pic credit BBC)

Anti French Government protests in the Ivory Coast (pic credit BBC)

“As a result of the post-electoral violence and human rights violations and abuses, hundreds of thousands of people fled their homes either to other parts of the country or to neighbouring countries, notably Liberia. At the height of the crisis there were more than one million refugees and internally displaced people. People attempting to return home were often victims of violence and many found their homes occupied by others. By the end of the year, more than 250,000 had not returned home for fear of harassment or retaliation.”

Death penalty: NO

Children are routinely held without trial.

Rich and poor:

42% of people loving in the Ivory Coast live in absolute poverty. According to the World Bank bsolute poverty is when people’s income is less than 75p a day.

32% of the population do not have access to clean water.

Average life expectancy is 50 years of age.

7.1% of adults have HIV.

Player to watch: Didier Drogba (striker) Yaya Toure (midfield)


FIFA ranking: 46

Place in world economic league table: 3

Civil rights issues:

On 11 March, an earthquake followed by a tsunami devastated the Tohoku area of eastern Japan. An estimated 20,000 people died or were reported missing. The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant suffered severe damage. Radiation emissions exceeding safe levels raised serious concerns about the lasting impact on health and food safety.

Death penalty: YES

In 2012 seven people were executed by the Japanese state and 130 prisoners, including several prisoners with mental illness were on death row.

Rich and poor:

Japan has seen wealth become slightly more concentrated over the past two decades. The top 1%’s share of national income rose about two percentage points to around 9% from 7%.

The top 10% richest Japanese people own 49.1% of the wealth.

In October 2009, Japan’s Labor Ministry released a report,which stated that almost one in six Japanese, which would be 20 million people, lived in poverty, in 2007.


The international day of action for fast food workers rights was well supported in Japan last month. The demand for a living wage and the right to form a union without retaliation, saw protests in every single borough in the country.

Workers protested at a McDonald’s in city district of Tokyo, demanding the company pay Japanese workers 1,500 Yen. Japanese TV stations were shocked at the fact that bystanders stopped and applauded the protesters.

Player to watch: Keisuke Honda (Midfield)

>> Read all our alternative World Cup posts


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