The moment I first heard about Brazil being a possible host for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, I thought, “Please, don’t host it.” Most people I talk to are excited and optimistic about it – Brazil, soccer, beaches, parties, samba and the World Cup. It’s all meant to be together, isn’t it?
Unfortunately, a native Brazilian might tell you otherwise.
I do want to make clear that I believe Brazil is a fantastic country to host the World Cup, because Brazil lives and breathes soccer. The only way to compare the passion to an American sporting event is to the Super Bowl, a major event here that has a connection with American culture. People get together to watch it and each family has its own Super Bowl tradition – the World Cup is no different in Brazil. The excitement is even more dramatic.
The World Cup happens only every four years and lasts about one month. Brazilians wear yellow and green, put flags in their houses and cars, children at school do artwork about the World Cup and companies will either send their employees home to watch games or provide a TV to watch. Yes, companies close during an important match. Brazil stops.
However, even though Brazil is the perfect country in terms of passion to host the event, it is not the right country based on its structure. We are not prepared. Between nine airports that should be reformed by the World Cup, seven are not expected to be ready in time. This year, after the start of school, Brazilians also complained about traffic in the cities.
The public traffic division replied, saying that during the World Cup it’s going to be different. In 71 days, they intend to finish the work they couldn’t complete in the last year, or the years before. What about public transportation? Brazil tries to test current options during soccer matches to simulate a World Cup game day.
Let’s not forget that people took to the streets in Brazil last year because of the increase of the ticket price for already low-quality public transportation. In addition, there are four stadiums which are scheduled to host games that are still under construction.
FIFA got desperate and said last year that Brazil needed “a kick up the ass.”
Though FIFA apologized afterward, Brazilians haven’t forgotten. FIFA is now celebrating its projection of $4 billion in revenue for this World Cup. This is 110 percent more than the value it got from the World Cup in Germany in 2006. Make no mistake – FIFA receives all of the revenue, not the country the event is hosted in.
However, Brazilian people are the ones paying for the stadiums and all the construction through taxes. It is also Brazil that is going to offer volunteers to work during the event.
FIFA gets the revenue while Brazil will pay the bill.
Some will argue that through the World Cup, Brazil will get new stadiums and reforms in transportation. It seems, however, that a country with a bigger tax revenue than the United States and Japan shouldn’t need a soccer competition to get things done for its own citizens.
A country that has more than 170,000 people waiting for nonemergency surgeries because of the lack of hospitals, equipment and doctors does not need a World Cup. A country that occupies the 85th position in the Human Development Index list and the seventh in homicide rates, according to FLASCO, does not need a World Cup.
Brazil needs more health services, hospitals, doctors, schools and better salaries for teachers, among other things. Brazilian citizens also need safety. It has become a joke among Brazilians that citizens want schools and hospitals “on FIFA standards.”
The little boys from the famous favelas in Brazil won’t attend the games at the stadiums because they don’t have money for the expensive tickets.
You will probably see them in an Adidas commercial between the games’ breaks, but the truth is that they have no money for sneakers. They play soccer barefoot.
These boys will be so happy about the World Cup being in Brazil, but that’s the saddest part. Of course, I want the event to be a success. I hope people will be safe and I hope Brazil hosts an amazing World Cup. It would be fantastic if people say afterward, “Remember the best World Cup ever in Brazil in 2014?”
But I know there will be no samba to pay the bill. There is only the hard work of all the Brazilians who will watch the World Cup on TV in their living rooms. World Cup for who? Not for Brazil.
Monique Roos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.