It’s today. The final bricks in the wall have been laid for what is, in my opinion, the major soft-power event in the whole world. Yes, I’m talking about the World Cup in Brazil, my home country, the nation most-often associated with the beautiful game.
Sorry to the naysayers but from now on until the final on 13 July it’s time to celebrate. Brazil has had enough criticism but the negativity was there with good reason – the stadiums were delayed by the maximum possible length and the word ‘FIFA’ has become closely associated with corruption and bribery.
Brazil hasn’t made it easy with its strikes, protesters in its streets and a general unhappiness about the event. But there is also an increasing sense that you can’t blame all the nation’s hardships on the World Cup. There has been an absurd amount of money spent but as the Folha de São Paulo newspaper reported a few days ago, the spending is not so high when you compare it to the bigger picture of annual governmental budgets.
Brazilian magazine Época’s cover last week pointed out how it has become almost politically incorrect to support the Brazilian team at this year’s World Cup. Some shop owners in São Paulo have avoided Brazilian flags in their displays in fear of vandals breaking the windows in aggression towards them.
Many Brazilians (and foreigners) have made the mistake of thinking that the World Cup is just some bread-and-circus spectacle that is doping everyone into not caring about ‘real’ problems. Well, enough of this arrogant and patronising attitude. I think most people in Brazil can both celebrate a victory for the Brazilian team and at the same time realise that there are problems within their own country. It makes me so angry when I hear people in Brazil – usually members of the elite – saying, “The Brazilian people don’t know how to vote. Well, it’s Brazil, what do you expect?”
I look forward to heading back to my home country in July to follow the final stages of the event but for now I will put on my Brazilian kit and cheer for the team tonight. And for those who want to know: I’m wearing number 7 this evening – Hulk’s shirt.
Fernando Augusto Pacheco is a researcher for Monocle 24.