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Thursday, 17 May, 2001, 09:50 GMT 10:50 UK
Brazil facing football blackout
Brazilian power cuts
Fans face being plunged into darkness
Emergency measures introduced in Brazil to combat a serious energy crisis are threatening to hit the football-crazy nation where it hurts.

A range of restrictions aimed at reducing consumption include a ban on power-hungry floodlights - in effect banning evening fixtures.

The blackout threatens to severely disrupt the country's already crowded football calendar, with state, national and international league matches all facing cancellation or postponement.


People can live without watching a game of soccer at nigh

Eucildes Scalco, Energy Crisis Council
Introduced by a specially-created government task force - already nicknamed the "Blackout Ministry - the measures look set to also hit other parts of Brazilian life.

Neon lights will be switched off and lighting on streets, beaches, squares and other public venues will be reduced.

Fears are also growing that the bright lights of the world-renowned Rio Carnival might be dimmed by the indefinite ban.

Blackout

"People can live without watching a game of soccer at night... we are just cutting the accessories," said Eucildes Scalco, a member of the newly-formed Electrical Energy Crisis Administrative Council.

Brazilian football fans
Football is a way of life to many Brazilians
The blackout will hit most of Brazil's 170 million urban population living cities such as Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Recife and the capital, Brasilia.

More restrictions are expected to be announced on Friday, and could include price rises and power cuts.

In Rio, some business leaders - fearing a wave of crime - have called for the army to be brought in to patrol the streets if power cuts are introduced.

Power crisis

The government says the power crisis has been caused by the worst drought in 70 years, which has left hydroelectric plant reservoirs nearly empty.

Critics, however, say years of poor management and under-investment in the industry - from which Brazil generates 90% of its power - have exacerbated the problem.

One energy expert said the targeting of activities close to people's hearts to make them save power could signal that the government will try to avoid across the board power cuts and rely on power-saving initially.

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24 Nov 00 | Americas
Brazilian football in crisis?
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