The verdict of the Brazilian people is negative. 56.0% of the football fans think that the national team will play at a low quality level. 23.0% expect a more or less standard level of performance, while only 21.0% have enough faith in the national team to think they will rise above their standard technical level.
Whatever the case the National Team might win the World Cup, but for the world Brazil, as a nation, already has lost.
In the final weeks of the preparation for the World Cup, expectations of an exciting tournament contrasts with the disappointment of the Brazilian people with the on-going problems and the negative image abroad.
This baptised Copa das Copas (the Cup of Cups) will be either the worst of the World Cups, or the best of the World Cups. On the football fields, in the stands of the stadiums and in front of the TV-screen, the World Cup 2014 has everything for the supporters to be remembered as an extraordinary competition. With very strong international selections, great football stars and a unique environment, and after all, happening in a country that is practically synonymous with the World Cup, this has to be the most interesting and exciting edition since the tournament was founded in 1930.
Outside the overpriced arenas erected for the tournament, however, the frustrating reality of the host country contrasts dramatically with the expected quality of the event. Despite the offensive of the federal government to sell the World Cup in Brazil as the catalyst for a remarkable revolution in the country’s infrastructure, the image of the World Cup in the eye of the Brazilian is still bad.
And outside the country it isn’t much better. If it was the intention to show the rest of the world a country in rapid development, the government failed dramatically, since the news linked to the World Cup is frighteningly negative. Today it is exactly 28 days, 4 weeks, before the kick-off of the opening match between Brazil – Croatia on 12 June in São Paulo. The Brazilian football selection is firmly in the race for the title, but Brazil, as a nation, has already lost the Cup. Even before its inception, the festive mood is tainted by deception of the people, who saw its worst fears confirmed in the construction projects related to the event. Excessive spending of public funds, poor planning, misplaced priorities, incompetence, resulting in the worldwide spread of the most troublesome clichés about the country: the banditry, the mess, the improvisation, the immaturity, and the instability.
Suspicions about the Brazilian capacity to perform a flawless World Cup accompany the country since even before the victory of its candidacy to host the tournament in 2007. Along the way, even in sight of worrying signs, the Brazilian authorities insisted guaranteeing the absolute success of the contract, promising completely refurbished airports, brand new public transportation in the host cities and road works that would transform the routine in the cities, not to mention, of course, the modern football arenas to be built for the tournament, which promised to make a huge qualitative leap for Brazilian football. Also an important evolution in the service sector was announced, with significant expansion of the hotel chain and vocational training for hundreds of thousands of workers.
In the final weeks before the opening of the World Cup, it is absolutely clear that any improvements fall far short of what is propagated. There are more hotels, but the lack of beds in some of the host-cities persists, besides the fact that many projects that won public funding for the World Cup never have left the drawing board, such as the reform of the Gloria Hotel in Rio de Janeiro at the hands of Eike Batista (after he benefitted a credit line from the BNDES, he sold the incomplete hotel to a Swiss fund for 200 million reais (USD 100 million)). Among employees in the service sector, improvements are incipient. Initiatives to increase training were short lived. The knowledge base of a second language, for example, is still less frequent than foreign visitors may and will expect.
Much more serious, however, is the gap between the official discourse and what lives in the headquarters of the World Cup. The federal government has reigned over a campaign promoting the benefits of the event. Five months before the general elections, the film discloses rather questionable numbers by listing the gains for the country with the World. The federal government, however, doesn’t show the projects that fell by the wayside. Multiple actions of urban mobility contained in the Original Plan are cancelled, and only five of the 41 projects maintained in the document, were ready by the end of the first quarter. Various host-cities – from Cuiabá, the smallest of them, to São Paulo, the largest – are in a race against time to finish the roads around the stadium (which, in turn, were built with very little private investment and were much more expensive than anticipated). According to the latest estimate by political magazine Veja in March, the costs of the World Cup have already passed the 10 billion reais (USD 5 billion).
Delays in the construction and renovation of stadiums did the criticism abroad towards the Brazilians swell, amplified through public complaints by the FIFA bosses. This left a bad impression on international investors who believe in investing in the country. Furthermore wretched international repercussions made an impact by a series of fatal accidents at construction sites of the stadiums. There were nine dead construction workers in the new stadiums. The fear of vandalism infiltrated in the protests against the excessive spending with the World Cup extends the list of concerns among foreigners.
Relief without pride – It may seem hard to pinpoint exactly where things derailed. At the root of almost all of the trouble in Brazil with the World Cup, however, always sits the same element: the weight of political interests. The completion of the event itself in the country, the idea of Ricardo Teixeira (President of the Brazilian Football Federation) promptly bought by former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, was an attempt to design a Brazil more developed thanks to the actions of the government. There was talk at the time about a World Cup event with all stadiums banked by private enterprise, but the desire to join the party led the governments of no less than nine States to meet the costs of the new arenas themselves. FIFA demanded only eight host-cities, which would make for a much cheaper World Cup. Political Brazil insisted on twelve to contemplate the greatest possible number of states. Likewise, the top echelon of the entity proposed to divide the country into four regions to facilitate the movements of tourists, delegations, officials and journalists, which would reduce the risk of problems at airports, for example. To bring the selection to more than one region and avoid jealousy, the Lula administration rejected the suggestion.
Seven years have passed since the announcement of Brazil as host-country. Now, 28 days before the kick-off nothing more rests the Brazilian then to wait for a month of World Cup football without major setbacks and surprises. At the end of the tournament, however, the Brazilian will, at best case scenario, have a sense of relief in the case of a correct and safe Cup.
A pride feeling in the achievements thanks to the tournament or satisfaction with the advancements that might improve Brazilian day-to-day life now only seem illusions.
The well-known Brazilian singer Ney Matogrosso expresses the feeling of the Brazilian people correctly: “If there was so much money available for the World Cup, why didn’t they solve the problems of the country“.
Source: Giancarlo Lepiani – “A 1 mês da Copa, seleção pode ganhar, mas Brasil perdeu”.