World Cup Mania: All Eyes on Brazil

After the requisite four year hiatus, the FIFA World Cup tournament kicks off at a dozen sites throughout Brazil on June 12th.  For Americans, the Olympic Games are the highlight of the international sporting world.  But for much of the rest of the planet, soccer is king and the World Cup is the venue for the sport, more widely known as football, to shine.

At least a half-million international soccer fans will soon descend upon the largest country in the Southern Hemisphere to bear witness to matches between the best players in the world as they vie for nationalistic pride and eternal glory.

Although the World Cup promises to deliver sporting excitement under the utmost safety and watchful eyes of thousands of security personnel, those traveling to South America next month need to be conscious of the potential dangers they may encounter in that beautiful land.  Brazil is a model of demographic diversity.  Its population is made up of many races and ethnic groups, creating great socioeconomic gaps between the wealthy and utterly poor throughout the major cities.  Crime-ridden slums have popped-up on the outer fringes of Brazilian metropolises, and criminal elements are present at all tourist destinations.

Millions of anti-government protesters are also making their presence felt.  Many Brazilians disapprove of the billions in expenditures made in support of the World Cup when millions of their countrymen are living below the poverty level, and public health services are in rapid decline.  Protester encampments are growing throughout the country, and just yesterday, violence erupted as over one million people took to the streets, clashing with riot police forces in over 100 cities including Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Another serious concern for international travelers to Brazil is the threat of “express kidnappings.”  Brazil leads the world in the number of annual “express kidnappings” which are usually short-term abductions for the purpose of robbery.  Most instances are resolved with accessible ATM funds and petty cash, but they can frequently involve some level of violence including rape.

U.S. residents flying to Brazil for the FIFA World Cup need to be aware that actions should be taken in preparation of their travels.  Petersen International provides several popular insurance options to ensure your clients are physically and financially protected during their World Cup vacations.  We offer comprehensive travel medical insurance including coverage for emergency medical evacuation out of Brazil as well as life insurance programs including benefits for acts of war and terrorism.  Disability income benefits are also available on a personal or key person basis as accident riders or standalone policies.  Regarding the threat of kidnapping, Petersen International is able to provide coverage that employs an experienced emergency response team to handle kidnappings for ransom and ensure the safe return of the insured person or family.

As insurance professionals, we advise anyone traveling to Brazil or any of its neighboring nations to exercise caution.  Enjoy the beauty of the people, their cultures and their country.  Immerse yourself in the World Cup splendor, but do so with great care.  That wonderful, exotic country holds many hidden perils.