Join the discussion: What will the World Cup mean for poverty in Brazil?
Eraldo Peres, Associated Press
Brazil has won five World Cups, more than any other nation, according to ranking site Aneki. However despite the national passion for soccer, only 48 percent of Brazilians believe hosting the Cup is a good idea compared to 79 percent in 2008, wrote John Lyons and Loretta Chao of the Wall Street Journal.
This is primarily because many Brazilians feel that the country isn't prepared for the economic strain of hosting the World Cup.
“For many Brazilians, the Cup has become a symbol of the unfulfilled promise of an economic boom for this South American nation,” wrote Lyons and Chao. “But the boom has fizzled.”
This World Cup is estimated to cost around $11.5 billion, making it the most expensive one in history, the Wall Street Journal reports. It says $3.6 billion of that cost came from taxpayer money, and roads, airports and the stadiums themselves haven’t been completed, despite the World Cup starting on June 12.
"It's an affront, in a country with so many deficiencies in basic needs, to organize a Cup in this way," São Paulo investment manager and soccer fan Alcyr Leme told the Journal.
The protests are not against the World Cup itself but against the extravagant government spending, according to Jeff Gammage of the Philadelphia Inquirer. "How are we going to spend millions building stadiums, and our people don't have hospitals or schools?" Gammage quoted Brazilian shop owner Lindolfo Neto. "I'm not excited for the World Cup in Brazil."
Vanessa Barbara of the New York Times is tired of the international criticism of Brazil’s handling of the World Cup and the supposed neglect of its citizens. If there is a culprit, Barbara argues, it’s not Brazil but the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA).
“We try to behave ourselves for Mommy FIFA, especially in front of visitors,” Barbara wrote, and listed numerous examples of Brazil bending its own rules to comply with FIFA. Brazilian laws were amended so beer could be sold in stadiums, Barbara continued. FIFA requested — and was granted — tax exemptions, and Brazil agreed to request FIFA’s permission before hosting traditional street festivals during the World Cup.
“We’ve evicted citizens from their homes to build stadiums and related infrastructure, and created strict security zones around the venues,” she wrote. “We’ve tried to convince ourselves that this is going to be a huge economic opportunity, despite lots of evidence to the contrary. And yet FIFA is never satisfied.”
Barbara argues that FIFA has simultaneously condescended to and expected far too much of Brazil, all the while publicly criticizing the event.
“FIFA and the I.O.C. (International Olympic Committee) can scold all they like,” she wrote. “We’ll do it our way. There’s no use giving us a time out.”
Others believe that there may still be positive outcomes available for Brazil.
Brazil's deputy sports minister Luis Fernandes told The Independent that Western reporting has been “sneering,” and that Brazil took on the World Cup in part because it would provide the needed incentive to improve its infrastructure.
“At Fortaleza, the coastal city in that north-east region, there is certainly evidence of the World Cup generating infrastructure which had remained unattainable for years,” The Independent wrote, explaining that the very poor city of Fortaleza has been waiting 14 years for a metro line, and now, with the approach of the World Cup, Fortaleza has received its much-needed public transit.
"We've been promising this line for over a decade but the World Cup has finally provided the push," Ministry of Planning analyst Natasha Nunes told The Independent. "We think it can accelerate the way the city grows and make others want to work here."
Bethan Owen is a writer for the Deseret News Moneywise and Opinion sections. Twitter: BethanO2