By Daniel Etchells

George Hilton is a controversial choice as Sports Minister so soon before Rio 2016 ©TwitterBrazilian President Dilma Rousseff's decision to appoint George 
Hilton as Sports Minister has been condemned by the Non-Governmental Organisation, Athletes For Brazil, as a missed opportunity to improve sports management ahead of Rio 2016.

Hilton, a member of the Brazilian Republican Party from Alagoinhas in the north-east of Brazil, was named as successor to Aldo Rebelo, but having undertaken very few sport-related projects throughout his career, his appointment has been strongly criticised. 

It is seen as a major blow 20 months before the start of the Rio 2016 Olympics in the South American nation, with a successful and experienced Sports Minister considered crucial to the success of a Games.

The 43-year-old evangelical pastor, connected to the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, who has also been involved in radio and television, and forms part of a second-term Rousseff cabinet consisting of several figures associated with the right-wing. 

Rousseff was re-elected by a narrow margin in October, winning 51.6 per cent of the valid votes cast to secure a much reduced mandate, having fought off a strong challenge by Aécio Neves.

Footballers past and present, including Dunga, Kaka, Dani Alves, Rogério Ceni, Cafu and Leonardo, as well as ex-Formula One driver Rubens Barrichello and Olympic volleyball star Ana Moser, are among Athletes For Brazil members.

"We demand a lot more respect and attention to everything related to sports in Brazil, something that is far from happening considering the criteria, or the lack of, used to choose the new Minister," the organisation said in a statement.

Aldo Rebelo (pictured) has been succeeded by George Hilton as the Brazilian Sports Minister ©Getty ImagesAldo Rebelo (pictured) has been succeeded by George Hilton as the Brazilian Sports Minister ©Getty Images

"Unfortunately, for years the Sports Ministry has been used for political bargaining," it was added.

"It's not about who's the best person for the job, it's about which party has the right alliances."

Hilton will be responsible for helping to organise the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, while Rebelo, a member of the Communist Party of Brazil who was in charge of the preparations for the successful 2014 FIFA World Cup, will move to the Ministry of Science and Technology.

Athletes For Brazil claim Ministers have been selected 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".

"On the eve of the Olympics, President Dilma relinquished an opportunity to improve sports, thus disappointing athletes, journalists, entrepreneurs, organisations, workers and sports lovers in general," the statement added.

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