In two weeks’ time the World Cup held in Brazil will be over, along with the reports raised by the social conditions of Brazilians.
The World Cup usually represents an economic opportunity for the country who holds it. As a matter of fact Brazil has already struggled for the last 15 years to turn out today as an emerging economy, with a really high rate of growth. However since the nominee in 2007, the ways to find capitals at the same time as the possibilities to lessen wealth gap have been questioned. Nevertheless in 2008 public opinion was still enthusiastic about the game: the 80% gave their approval, while the 10% was uncertain and the remaining 10% against. Then circumstances have drastically changed. The economic crisis has spread distrust upon the effective benefits of the event and simultaneously the required budget started to rise. The current evaluation shows stratospheric amount of money: 26 billions of reias, the equivalent of 8.9 billions of euros, have been used to build twelve stadiums- while the minimum requirement, according to FIFA, would have been only eight. Moreover, of the 8 billions only 3.7 come from private investments, while the rest derives from state funds. Not to mention that for the next olimpic games, that will be held in Rio in 2016, Brazilians have been spending 12 billions of reias (equivalent to 4 billions of euros), since 2010.
In addition the extreme slowness in building the proper constructions, got ready a few days before the start of the game, and the building criteria adopted, puzzled everyone. For example in the Arena Corithias of San Paolo, completed only in March, a crane collapsed in November of the last year, causing the death of two workers- and according to some geologists the stadium was built on an unstable ground, due to the sandy stratum upon the rocky basis. Or the Manaus stadium, assembled within the Amazonian forest, whose destiny after the World Cup is seriously questioned.
The expensive costs, bordering on wastefulness, the serious doubts about the requalification of the buildings, the widespread corruption that has delayed the works and the government trampling on the interests of majority can properly frame the background in which the Brazilian protests arose, starting from June of the last year. The protesters came from different social situations (among them there were students as well as people from favelas) and their marches proved at times violent or peaceful.
People essentially wanted- this is what came to light- a proper welfare state rather than the world cup event. Which would have implied a minimum state investment in increasing public education, healthcare and a stable demand for labour, rather than the hugest splurge of money in Wolrd Cup history. Furhermore, the citizen’s safety itself has been undermined within the process, due to the death of nine workers who were building the structures and to 250 millions of people from the favelas, who were compelled to clear out because they were living way near the construction yards.
Brazilians boycotting the World Cup may sound absurd, if one thinks about how fanatic they are about soccer, but the social issues involved in the planning of such an event proved that the matter wasn’t just about a sport contest.
The public image of Brazil has now been compromised, even though the national president, Dilma Roussef, has tried to keep international credibility. The debates have gone viral on the web, especially across the social networks- Youtube for example is packed with videos against the event, and among them the following is still one of the most moderate:
The visual symbol of the whole protests and the boycott is this mural, drawn by the local artist Paolo Ito and doesn’t need any further explanation.
The crucial point of the whole situation lies, however, in a great paradox. On one hand setting up the event has caused social injustices; hence the protests and the boycott we know, both concrete, national and virtual, worldwide. But on the other hand being supportive of Brazilians and sympathetic with their social conditions is allowed in primis by the mediatic echo the World Cup has brought with it. Without the sport event, no one would probably have had the incitement or interest required to deepen the already dramatic Brazilian situation.