Only the second South-American nation to host the illustrious Copa das Copas (Cup of Cups) in 50 years, the World cup goes to the five-time winners Brazil this June. Despite their glorious triumphs on the football field, controversy, social unrest and disaster have put into doubt the legitimacy of the Brasilia’s ability to withstand the coming and going of the global mega-event.
Since the relatively peaceful protests of last June during the Confederations Cup in Brazil, the build-up months to the World Cup have seen rioting and politically-exacerbated violent protesting. Just last month, a considerable force of infuriated and desperate protestors stormed the Presidential Office, of which President Dilma Rousseff was fortunately vacant at the time. In what seems to be an eternally-developing nation, the World Cup was deemed to be the country’s salvation; a chance to display their ambitions to the world, solidify their standing as an emerging technological powerhouse and boost their economy with the half million tourists expected to arrive.
Sadly, what has actually transpired is disorder and chaos.
An unorganised array of last-minute preparations and frenetic construction have left six workers dead. Displays of police brutality in response to rioting have resulted in many citizens and officers being hospitalised, whilst in a World Cup training facility the Corinthians (a local football team) were assaulted by a mob of protesters. And it doesn’t stop there- amidst the confusion, numerous injunctions and court rulings banning dangerous construction have affected progress of the venue’ completion effectively condensing the pressure of the situation upon the nation. Indeed, even FIFA president, Sepp Blatter, has publicly criticized Brazil’s lagged efforts in preparation for the event despite having the most time to prepare (seven years).
It is no wonder why incensed citizens subject to sky-rocketing public transport prices, congested cities and intensified street violence brandish signs emblazoned with the message, “Não vai ter Copa!” (No World Cup). And really, who’s to blame them? Possible sales of a mere 400,000 tickets will allow Brazilians to view the event pillaging their country, the cutthroat price only a privileged minority can actually afford. Across the twelve different cities hosting group games in the country, one must wonder what the common citizens think or feel when they look up to the glittering peaks of newly built stadia. Pride? Anger? Are the 40,000 protestors representative of the nation’s people at large? One would hope not.
When commercialised warfare ridicules those with no power, the reactions of the Brazilian public are hardly surprising. It is estimated that 5.5 billion in commercial revenue will fill FIFA’s pockets throughout the Cup, whilst millions empty those of the host’s people to construct white elephants doomed to be neglected after the passing of the event. One such stadium, Arena Amazonia, in the heart of the Amazonian rain-forest will host only 4 group games before being inevitably consigned to dereliction. When improved public transportation, healthcare and education is foregone for the construction of glorified stadiums, one can begin to understand the abounding frustration from the Brazilian public.
But what about the benefits of the World Cup? Is it not a necessary sacrifice for the betterment of an advancing nation? Are the 30,000 evicted families in the country’s capital, Rio de Janeiro, worth the economy’s foreign stimulus?
It’s a little hard to tell.
Social commentator and previous World Cup winner Tostão told the Observer: “The cup will happen. That’s certain. There is no way they will let it not happen. But what is success?”
Critics have denigrated the perspective of relying on the redemptive capabilities of the tournament as ‘naive and irresponsible’. However, these critics have let one thought escape their minds.
This is the World Cup. This is the beautiful game at its most prestigious and glorified summit.
Last June saw Brazil win the Confederations Cup on home soil where they looked near invincible, crushing the most recent European and World Cup champions Spain in the finals 3 – 0. It was an unforgettable moment when the Brazilian team sung their national anthem in the pre-match moments. The enthusiasm and the heart was almost tangible, the passion was stupendously emotional leaving even the commentators speechless in wonder. In football there is a quality that is respected as the most valuable to have. Desire. It is doubtless that Brazil are the favourites to win the World Cup and one can only imagine the unification and senseless euphoria if they emerged the victors.