World Cup in Brazil can rightly be considered unique because it took place in a country where football is not only a game but a spectacle. Football in this country is a religion; moreover, it is a cult with which every corner of this beautiful South American country is impregnated. Latin America, which gave the world dozens of amazing football players, missed the big football. This fact was felt in every match of the Championship. Expectations of hundreds of millions of fans around the globe were very high of this event. Of course, the beginning of the tournament met them. Although the national football team of Brazil suffered a crushing defeat in the semifinal of the World Cup, the authorities still had some reasons for celebration. For example, airports operated stably and a lot of stadiums have been constructed. There were doubts if the stadiums would be ready in time; however, the task was completed. Moreover, concerns about possible protests during the World Cup proved to be unfounded. However, the Championship was not a pure celebration since many of the issues in the country’s social policy have been revealed.
Brazil faces different serious tests including the struggle for the revival of a stagnant economy. Furthermore, the country needs to prepare for the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 (Schissel). One can notice the same problems with the terms of the commissioning of the necessary facilities as in the case of the World Cup. It can be expected that the Olympics will cause the criticism of the spending priorities of the Brazilian authorities. However, Brazil will be preparing for the summer Olympic Games despite the political and economic difficulties. FIFA World Cup has proved that the country is able to be the mistress of such major sporting events.
However, the Championship has also showed how much criticism and controversy such events can provoke during the preparation process. In 2013, millions of people protested against the decision to spend 31bn reals on football stadiums and infrastructure associated with the tournament (Watts). The crowd questioned the necessity of such a huge cost which could have been spent on basic needs such as education and health. Olympic Games 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, the city where inequalities between rich and poor is particularly pronounced, will certainly lead to the continuation of these disputes.
Although the World Cup has come as an outstanding event, it has not brought the economic advantages and has not fulfilled the hopes. The authorities had planned to use it to build new trains, subways and other objects of infrastructure that would help the regional economy. However, many projects, such as high-speed railway line between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, have not been implemented, and the authorities focused on the basic facilities – the stadiums. Here, the government has faced complications as well since four arenas – Brasilia, Cuiaba, Manaus and Natal – will be of little use in the future becoming symbols of excessive costs (Panja, Colitt, and Spillane).
For the authorities, whose reign is hardly successful, the World Cup has become a kind of analgesic that could not cure and has only numbed the economic and political problems of the country. Moreover, in a state where football is the first and only one national religion, the World Cup has brought yet more discontent than joy. FIFA World Cup has led to the appearance of a violation of the social contract between citizens and government. Brazil is one of the most unequal countries in the world. Its poorest citizens pay rather considerable taxes getting a minimum of assistance from the state (Price, O’brien, Bechtel, and Beech).
Regardless of the socio-economic class, corruption and petty crimes remain the norm for the vast majority of Brazilians. While lobbying for the championship, the ex-President Lula promised not to spend public funds on the competition, but to invest in infrastructure and other social projects (Borden). Unfortunately, this past situation has influenced the image of the present president, and the disposal of the Brazilian team from the Championship has added fuel to the fire. However, despite the billions that have already been spent on new stadiums and transport infrastructure, it should be noted that Brazil still has managed to increase its budget for health and education. This is a sign that Dilma listens to protesters.
The high level of dissatisfaction has created a new meme among the Brazilians that is “Imagina na Copa” which literally means ‘imagine it during the World Cup’ (Antunes). FIFA president, Sepp Blatter, said that the protesters “should not use football to force the authorities to hear their demands”, and that public spending on construction of sports facilities is aimed at “the future, not only for the World Cup” (Watts). However, FIFA never loses investments in the world championships. Two of its main sources of revenue are the sale of television rights and the sale of marketing rights, which do not directly depend on the quality of the organization of the tournament. Despite Blatter’s statement, the construction of such projects must meet long-term needs of the country rather than be required only once. As an example, the Amazonia stadium was built in Manaus according to certain standards of FIFA. The stadium was designed for nearly 40 thousands viewers with a budget of more than $270 million. What is the most interesting, it was built for four FIFA World Cup games, and the city municipality does not know what to do with the stadium in the future since its maintaining costs $250 thousands per month (Goldman). Moreover, construction materials for the stadium were brought from France deep into the Amazon rainforest by boats since no other transport connections to the city in the heart of the tropics could be used.
Former Brazilian footballer and now a political figure, Romario, named the championship “the greatest theft in history” referring to his own estimates (“Romário Fears”). Additionally, he called for a deeper investigation of a wide misuse of public funds, which he considered the cause of the protests. However, he himself has been criticized by the ruling party for receiving a huge sum of money for television advertising dedicated to the World Cup (Borden). Thus, many of the political elite were also playing foul. Unfortunately, the Brazilians’ protest against the construction of stadiums and the huge costs were too late. People ought to think about this back in 2007.
Today, the FIFA World Cup can be used as a starting point for demanding better social services whether in the form of health benefits or highways. However, no one is an expert to say whether after the competition ends the world will not be less interested in what is happening inside the host country. Of course, the championship will stay a great event and celebration for the people of Brazil and all over the world. However, the main thing is that the citizens of the host country should largely prioritize their country’s engagement for further sincere analysis of the event as a joyous celebration of victory or mourning on the social and monetary policies their government provides. Football, like any other sport, should not determine public opinion. The case of Brazil should turn the other world’s part attention to the responsible policy which always must be a priority, regardless of the fact whether the country will get the victory and will the world pay attention to the problems of descent authorities.