The 2014 FIFA World Cup is predicted to be one of the most exciting events happening this year. According to FIFA, the international governing body of soccer, an estimated 3 million Brazilians and 600,000 tourists are expected at this important sporting event.
To many people in many places, soccer (“futebol” as the Brazilians call it) is much more than just a sport. For true fans, futebol is a way of life and a way to bring people together, as Brazil has exemplified for a number of years. This futebol-loving country will host World Cup, a fact that creates both anticipation and concern.
Students at Principia College have varying opinions on what the FIFA games will bring. However, most agree that this event will be exciting. Futebol is a big deal to Brazilians, which is one reason why the government has taken on the task of hosting the games.
“The World Cup brings many benefits to Brazil, including jobs, tourism and various public improvements,” junior Alice Batista said. “Sure, there will be problems. Yes, there will be criticism. There will certainly be things for people to complain about. But, in my opinion, the World Cup in Brazil will be a blast.”
Brazil has lived through two dictatorships but has grown immensely in the past 20 years. “The economy has developed tremendously, the poverty line and hunger has decreased. In other words, we are capable of hosting the World Cup,” sophomore Beatriz Carvalho said. “There is still so much more to be done in the country that being the host for the next World Cup might not be the best next step for us. Not saying we don’t need to use our culture and celebrate what we’re good at.”
In many countries, there are different tribes and ethnic groups that support different beliefs. For many of these countries, however, the FIFA World Cup is one thing that truly unites the population. Football is the world’s most commonly played sport and is one language that a huge number of people can speak. “Futebol is like a ritual in Brazil,” freshman Lucas Dias said. It is almost like a sacred practice. This passion, for some, is a positive reason for why Brazil should be host to FIFA. On the contrary, sophomore Igor de Souza said, “I am scared because I agree with the prediction that there will be a riot if Brazil does not win the World Cup this time.”
Over the past year, the news has indicated that many Brazilians strongly disagree with the decision to hold the World Cup in Brazil. A number of Principians also agree with this view, saying that the government is overlooking the people. Brazilians have not been happy “to see the government spend so much money on stadiums and other preparations for the event when public hospitals, schools and general infrastructure were inadequately funded and cared for,” according to Batista.
The problem isn’t that the games are failing to bring tourism and money to the country, the issue is that the money isn’t going back to the people. So, while money may flood in, the rich will get richer and the poor will stay poor. “Traditionally, soccer has really been something of the masses, but this World Cup isn’t inclusive of the masses,” senior Leticia Filizzola said. “it’s an event for riches, and not many Brazilians will even be able to afford the expensive tickets to games.”
Major protests began when the price for a bus ticket increased. This was an indicator that the people of Brazil would be responsible for paying for the World Cup, though their needs lay elsewhere. “At that point, many of the protests started to shift attention from bus tickets to the World Cup. The basic question was why – and how – is the government spending so much money to invest in a World Cup event if there’s so much that we need to invest in education, poverty, transportation and so on,” sophomore Marcello Filizzola.
The government has made blatant errors, like in developing stadiums, which have either been unstable, in a bad location, or behind schedule. The government has also gone out of it’s way to excavate the land and to turn Rio de Janeiro into something it’s not. Leticia says that “roads are being extended, airports are being amplified, stadiums are being reformed and some started from scratch.”
To students like junior Jessica Santos, this holds even more weight because of the morals behind exploiting Brazil’s resources. “I think that Brazil is trying to sell an image that is not true. My country is amazing. It’s full of diversity, happy people, beautiful landscapes and much love. I think that this should be enough for anyone to go to Brazil,” she said. “But the government is using the World Cup to evict the poor people that live in the slums of Rio, just to look nice for tourists. If you want to go to Rio, trust me, you’re going to have a blast. Rio is incredible. But what is also incredible, is the lack of interest the government has for its people.”
Overall, most people agree that the World Cup will be exciting but that the long term effects that it will have on the country are daunting. Leticia said that “because soccer or ‘futebol’ is so precious and dear to the Brazilian people, it will be an important mark in our history and people will enjoy it.” The next step for Brazil, she says, is to make sure that infrastructure is ready on time. Marcelo added, what’s done is done by way of the government, “the only way to minimize all the expenses and making the best out of the World Cup is by attracting many foreign[ers] to the country. If people don’t come, it will only make things worse.”
Trust in the government is at an all time low for Brazil, but the World Cup might redirect people’s interest for a while.