The 2014 World Cup was divisive in host country Brazil. Costing an estimated $11.6 billion to stage, we look at the 32-day tournament’s legacy. With the Rio de Janeiro Olympics to come, what’s the feeling towards these profile-building events? Is the ‘people’s game’ now out of reach for the majority of the people?
Before the 2014 World Cup kicked off last June, two-thirds (61%) of Brazilians thought hosting the tournament was a bad idea. Imagine how they felt when André Schürrle knocked in Germany’s seventh goal in that semi-final.
I was in Rio de Janeiro for the first ten days of the tournament and saw for myself the massive inequality and a small amount of dissent. For example, I couldn’t visit one of the publicly run museums as the staff were on strike, but on the whole the country seemed behind the tournament. [Continues]
I quizzed Brazilian football fans the year after Brazil 2014 and the tournament looks an even worse idea than feared. At least four stadiums – including the most expensive, the $550 million Mane Garrincha stadium in the capital Brasilia – are apparent white elephants. Tourist numbers have remained consistent, rather than the hoped-for rise, but visitor spend has fallen.
Even domestic matches appear beyond the reach of many Brazilians, with tickets costing the most comparatively per head of population than anywhere in the world, having increased 300% in the last decade.
How do Brazilian football fans feel?
According to Corinthians fan Felipe Romano from São Paulo, issues around the economy resurfaced when the General Election came around in October last year.
“The public kind of forgot the World Cup a little when the elections took place, because there were a lot of different problems arising, and until today there’s uncertainty regarding economy and future, so it’s only a piece of the puzzle,” he told OW.
Romano believes that the tournament itself was well organised, but the colossal 7-1 defeat to Germany helped people remember the latest issues facing Brazil.
“I believe it will still remain something that we didn’t really need, we had more urgent problems to address,” he added.
For São Paulo-based entrepreneur and football fan Carlos Barros, alleged corruption and the use of public funds are a key factor in popular discontent around the legacy of the Brazil 2014 World Cup.
“Similarly to the Greek Olympics, where the population protested against the huge expenses on the event while the economy was in crisis, the Brazilians criticised the huge cost of Brazil World Cup while the country needs investments in education, security and infrastructure,” he said. [Continues…]
“Our World Cup cost more than the German one (2006). In addition to that, some of the new stadiums built are already showing problems like leaks and more public money is being spent to fix it. To complete scene, some of the stadiums are not being used, because the cities don´t have any teams playing in the first three national divisions, so they were only used during the World Cup and will now be abandoned,” Barros concluded.
Will lessons be learned for Rio 2016?
Brazilians are famously soccer mad, so how do they feel about the even more expensive Olympic Games? The projected $12 billion cost of hosting the Rio 2016 games could well rise and much work remains to be done.
Romano again: “I think it’s still a question mark. People are hoping it will work as well as the World Cup was, regarding the organisation and thrills, but without the pocketing of public resources, which we know is utopia. Also, I don’t think people is so much worried now, except maybe people from Rio that are close to the construction sites, because our political and economic situation is stealing the attention. As of the huge stadia in small cities, it’s going the way we expected to go, huge maintenance costs and no one interested in organising events there, except for one game or another, but far from being used as it should be.”
The Brazilian government expects 380,000 visitors for Rio 2016, but it is clear that Brazil’s problems run deeper than anything that the two biggest sports tournaments on earth can solve.