It is the World Cup that has to be ready for Brazil
If it weren’t for Brazil, the World Cup as we know it could have disappeared. After all, it was the only nation still bidding to get football’s main event after World War 2 (1939-1945). The favorites to host it before the global conflict were Nazi Germany, a nation that probably didn’t have any issues with education and healthcare and felt it was only right that they had the 1942 tournament after hosting the most racist Olympics ever in 1936 in Berlin. Anyway, when Europe was destroyed, it was a South American country much poorer than Argentina or Uruguay at the time with growing tradition in the sport that cared enough to build a titan like the Maracanã stadium. Although Brazil traumatically lost the final, they put the World Cup back on the map.
Sixty four years later, the first World Cup Brazil ever hosted because of its own achievements kicks off. Brazil is not hosting the World Cup because the global economy is in shambles — the rights to have football’s extravaganza came in 2007, when everyone was happy. Brazil is not hosting the World Cup because it bribed its way into it, unlike other uberpowerful nations, ja? Brazil is not hosting the World Cup because others decided to be generous and mercifully give us that unparalleled opportunity. Brazil was accepted as an important country for the future of the planet and that remains true.
Brazil is hosting the World Cup because in 1988 it put in its Constitution that a public health care system was essential. It is hosting the World Cup because 20 years ago it made the lives of the poor less unstable by taming inflation. We are hosting the World Cup because we dragged 30 millions out of poverty in the last decade alone. Unlike many protesters suggest, Brazil is hosting the World Cup because it has made an effort to tackle historical grievances that have nothing to do with football’s extravaganza. No doubt many of these grievances persist, but the hosting the World Cup is a sign Brazil is on the right path for two decades.
Brazil is hosting the 2014 World Cup because it is now a better country than in 1950. That was made, like or not, but those who occupied the presidency since 1992. Although many activists and strikers prefer to ignore judicial decisions and halt traffic for thousands even if they are no more than 50 on a road, Brazil is still largely populated by law abiding people who want better services just as much. Unlike some platitudes suggest, Brazil has developed policies to address its grievances. It is not cutting benefits or seeing poverty increase. It is a country that can do more, but also one that has walked a long way.
Of course there is fair criticism about how preparations were made and a question about priorities. Those will always stand tall. But there is also skulduggery, racism and useless microengineering lessons, specially in the media, that will soon be forgotten. It often comes from those who believe Brazil 2014 and Brazil 1950 are not so much different. For these, Brazil is a violent Spanish-speaking beach in the middle of the jungle. Deep down, their point is that World Cups should always be in rich countries. As if football belonged to them alone and to their brands whose profit also comes from sweat made in Indonesia.
The fact the stadium of the opener or some airports are not as perfect as they should by no means implies that Brazil should never bid for big sporting events to put the country in a shopping window for tourists. If that was the case, there wouldn’t have been a World Cup in Italy or in South Africa. The fact that Brazil has overspent on stadia is not the case either. Although that criticism is reasonable, Brazil doess use stadia for loads of other things besides football.
Only those who fight with the news will say that the grueling preparations tainted the event itself when it doesn’t turn out to be the tragedy they expected. What really matters is what happens between 12 June and 13 July. I am sure there will be glitches, as there always are in such big events. There will probably be protests too, and I hope none of them are violent or stop people from all over the world from going to the matches they have dreamed about watching in the land of football.
But none of the many issues Brazil had in the last seven years takes from this country the right to host a competition that not only brought improvements — we can debate the extent, of course — but also speaks so dearly to the vast majority of the population. The Brazilian elite, which we have discussed long enough here, is behind a big part of the negative wave, as the head of DataPopular institute says, because it sees the success of the World Cup in Brazil as a victory for president Dilma Rousseff. I just care about Brazil doing it well and doing some proper accountability after it is finished.
Some will say I am being less critical than I should by comparing preparations in Brazil with those in other countries, and I will say to them that my role is to put things under perspective — I am not an activist. I am also a football fan that will support the national team like never before. In 2010, I was very much against them. I didn’t like the coach, the players, anyone there. This time is different. Brazil needs to show it has improved indeed, although it is far from perfect. We have important infrastructure, we have the atmosphere and the soul of the most popular sport on Earth.
The World Cup had better be ready. Brazil is coming.