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.




About Mauricio Savarese

I am a Brazilian journalist who got tired of reporting only in Portuguese. Politics and football, these are my turfs. Twitter: @msavarese. Email:

Posted on 12/06/2014, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Bravo! Very good points. I am an expat living in Qatar, a future host nation. I am not exactly sure how many Brazilians have died building stadiums but it pales in comparison to the amount of foreign workers (slaves) who have died and/or living in inhumane conditions building stadiums here in 40 degree celsius heat. I wish Brazil only success in hosting the Wold Cup. International sports are great but its time we stop complaining about host countries and start talking about the criminal organization know as FIFA.

  2. not sure what the improvements were Mauricio. We have continued on the path of bus and car dependence, over invested in elite sport at the expense of the base and excluded the population from any kind of meaningful input into the event. Of course when so much money gets sloshed around there are inevitable benefits, but the real problem here is the consolidation of a business model and an urban governance model that will not serve Brazil well in the future. Also, I would disagree with your comparison of Brazil 1950 and 2014 – nada a ver. The WC came back here because of a whole series of interrelated events that had to do with FIFA´s changing rules and the expanding economy and a political elite (that you have also criticised) that have made the most of the opportunity to make themselves even richer. Don´t let the good football and party atmosphere take off the critical edge!

    • Mauricio Savarese

      Hi professor. Glad to have a comment of yours. 🙂

      This is too long of a conversation to have it in the comment section, but I will try to make some bullet points (in the middle of a work craze here). Again, I don’t think sporting events are the best thing ever. I don’t think Brazil did the best it could with this World Cup. Having said that:

      1 – The World Cup came to Brazil because it was South America’s turn in a rotation system which wasn’t invented by Brazil. It was put in place after the scandalous and potentially corrupt victory of the German bid for the 2006 World Cup — which was supposed to be South Africa’s. The only other bid for 2014 was Colombia’s, and they dropped out two weeks before. England and the US prepared bids for 2014, but couldn’t go further after the system was changed. If it weren’t Brazil, I am pretty sure no one else would have stepped forward in South America. All you need is to take a look at the political and economical landscape in 2007. Brazil got to host the tournament as the only bid standing in 1950 and the same in 2014. In my opinion, tudo a ver. If it weren’t for Brazil having a bid, the rotation system would end and Germany’s bizarre victory in 2006 would have paid off.

      2 – I care about the sport too, so I can’t help but thinking that giving all the World Cups to the elites of the rich countries over and over wouldn’t have been a much better idea for football.

      3 – I agree that the Brazilian elite wanted to make the most of it, but isn’t that the case in anything else? Including healthcare — just look at the tenures for ambulances that led to the Sanguessuga scandal. Including education — just look at strange companies selling textbooks for millions and millions. The fact that the elite wants to profit doesn’t make anything invalid. It just makes it more important to have proper checks and balances, proper accountability. After all, Brazil is not Russia. It is a functioning, though flawed, democracy. When I worked in Brasilia, between 2010 and 2012, people only showed up to complain about selling alcoholic beverages in the stadiums. Doesn’t seem like proper checks and balances to me.

      4 – I agree many evictions were unlawful and that those affected by that should sue the State to get proper compensation. But it is hard to believe that World Cup stadia are responsible for this massive consolidation of a business model and an urban governance model. It might be shallow, but my perception comes from the number of ads selling property: they are endless. And it has been like that for years. I understand the World Cup itself is a good opportunity to present criticism, but I sense there is a general overshooting about the importance and the impact of the tournament.

      Anyway, I hope to meet you sometime or to have you on the Brazil podcast we are doing every week, always nice to talk to great people.

      All the best

    • Valdek Costa

      You’re completly wrong about Brazilian public policies Christopher Gaffney!
      Try not to read the dirty media that spread false ideas about our Brazil.
      We must talk about what we know for sure!

  3. I must only say that 100 thousand free admission tickets to the event were given out both to people who worked in the renovation of the arenas and for public school students. I must only say that the public budget concerning Education, Health, Public Housing and Mobility is at least a hundred times the total cost of the event, which by the way brought about lots of improvements in public transportation such as new subway and bus lines, as well as new airports and roads.

  4. Valdek Costa

    Excellent article Mauricio!
    You wrote as you live in Brazil.
    The Government did the best it could to give us a beautiful event!

  1. Pingback: 15th of June: Last Reading List out of Madrid | Too Much Time

  2. Pingback: Everything you always wanted to know about Brazilian elections (according to me) | A Brazilian Operating in This Area

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: