Brazil may consider football its religion, but as the 2014 World Cup looms around the corner for a country that hosted it 64 years ago, welcoming back the messiah that is the World Cup to their soil isn’t something many are excited about.
Just seven years ago, thousands choked the streets to celebrate their country’s winning bid to host the 2014 World Cup. Today, thousands throng the streets to protest against it.
Ballooning budgets and grand plans for even grander buildings that look like incomplete delusions of grandeur have simmered resentment among the public amid the backdrop of a sluggish economy and a widening income gap.
With every World Cup and major sporting event, the build up to host games on a world stage comes with the airing of its dirty laundry, where social injustices, crime, poverty and human rights abuses are exposed. In recent years – South Africa, for its 2010 World Cup, and Russia, for its Winter Olympics – the world has been witness to their incapabilities and social ills.
“Brazil, let me put this in terms you might understand. Think of money as pubic hair and FIFA as wax. They’re going to be all over you during the World Cup, but when they go, they’re taking the money with them, including some from places you didn’t even know you had any money.”John Oliver on Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
Like every wide-eyed developing nation optimistic enough to play host nation to the World Cup out of their own pocket, they’re promised riches in return for the world’s most lucrative (and expensive) sporting event.
It’s an assurance made by FIFA, the game’s governing body that oversees international football, but it’s a flimsy and subjective assurance at best. Most of the profits are kept by the organisation which ultimately, makes money off bucket-loads of sponsorship deals with the world’s biggest conglomerates and consumer brands.
Today, not many Brazilians are convinced the World Cup is a lucrative deal for their nation. In the build up, a monorail has collapsed this week in Sao Paulo and won’t be ready to ease congestion, a US$200 million stadium in a far-off industrial hub deep in the Amazon to host a total of four World Cup games has been built, and a Brazilian law implemented for public safety has been overwritten by FIFA to resume the sale of alcohol at stadiums during football matches.
In a survey released by the Pew Research Center on June 3, only 34 per cent of Brazilians think the World Cup will help their economy, while 39 per cent say the tournament will hurt Brazil’s image.
Brazil’s inability to plan and its habit of leaving things to the last hour benefits a profiteering organisation like FIFA, who will look past Brazil’s shortfalls and get away as quick as possible with the profits.
As John Oliver laid it in simple terms for Brazil on the Last Week Tonight show, “Brazil, think of money as pubic hair, and FIFA as wax”.
Brazil’s imperfect democracy and social economy should be the only reasons they shouldn’t have hosted the World Cup, but they have.
As the nation’s citizens come to terms with it, the games will go on, and the nation will most likely be establishing public holidays for all its workers on days the national team plays. And perhaps those incentives, combined with the excitement and skill displayed over 90 minutes, will appease and temper the anger, resentment and dissatisfaction among sceptical Brazilians.
Yet, with the world’s eyes on the samba nation, detractors of one of its most expensive endeavours in recent history will continue to do all they can to show the world the country’s silliness to put glamour before unchecked poverty.
And some are doing it more creatively than others.
The nation and its government will be praying to their gods in yellow and blue on the pitch to give a strong showing. Only a strong showing might benefit the country emotionally rather that financially.
FOOD, NOT FOOTBALL: A graffiti painted by Brazilian street artist Paulo Ito on the entrance of a public schoolhouse in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The picture of the graffiti depicting a starving child with nothing to eat but a football has been shared more than 50,000 times on Facebook.
4-4-0: A man stands next to graffiti referring to the 2014 World Cup in Sao Paulo. The city of Sao Paulo will host the opening match of the 2014 Brazil World Cup. The phrase spray painted reads: “We are Brazilians, four in four years”.
STRIKE ONE: Fuleco the Armadillo, the 2014 World up mascot, pointing a rifle at a message that reads: ‘We Want Education’ and ‘Not Repression’.
MONEY GRUBBERS: A graffiti depicting Tatubola (left), the mascot of the upcoming FIFA World Cup, Tatubola, can be seen on a wall of the Maracana metro station, the nearest one to the Maracana stadium, ahead of the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Rio de Janeiro.
DRIBBLE AND FIDDLE: Graffiti over a mural featuring Brazil’s Neymar has been modified to make the Barcelona striker look like a member of the Black Blocs, which have been active in Brazil’s ongoing protest movement against the World Cup, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
GETTING FUCKED OVER BY A CUP: A man rides his motorcycle in front of a graffiti against the FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014, near Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro.