The very fun World Cup confounded expectations while exposing some deep truths. Was it all worth it? Above, dismantling the extra seats at São Paulo’s Itaquerão Stadium.
It is January. The foreign journalist sits at his desk in London (or New York or Berlin) and thinks about the World Cup. The foreign journalist is not happy. The foreign journalist is worried. The foreign journalist is angry. The stadiums are not ready, he hears, and even if they were, the traffic and the public transport network in Brazil is such a seething mess that he and his fellow foreign journalists would not be able to get from their expensive hotels to the matches anyway. People say the hundreds of thousands of protestors who took to the streets last June will back in five months’ time, and that there will be more of them, and that they will be more furious and more violent. “It’s the World Cup of chaos!” he writes, and leans back in his chair, pleased with his work.
The Cup went well enough that we finally got to focus on the soccer for a few weeks. Now, it’s back to the real problems.
Rio de Janeiro
Since early May, and really, since June 2013, we’ve seen the meaning of the World Cup shift radically, many times. Before it all started, the questions were “Is this going to happen?” and, “Will Brazil hate their own World Cup?” We thought it would probably be fine, but many thought otherwise.
Then it started, and the mood in the country was “Wow, this is going pretty well.” By week two, it was time for the World Cup optimists and government supporters to declare victory, as well as to say “I told you so.” But in the last two weeks of the tournament, another shift took place, to a theme which never should have been surprising.
Manaus – distant city
World Cup matches in Manaus are long over, but did the spotlight help the city transcend its reputation as a jungle outpost? Above, photos from Leco Jucá, part of a collective aiming to shine some light on the real city.
by Chris Feliciano Arnold
On the Sunday of the U.S.-Portugal match in Manaus, Isaura Vitória Fróes Ramos sunbathed on the top deck of a riverboat near the Lago do Iranduba. With a cold beer in hand and salted steaks on a nearby grill, she raved about the World Cup.
U.S.-Brazil relations are still strained due to allegations of high-level NSA spying and corporate espionage. In the unlikely event that the US team makes a strong showing at the World Cup this year, how would Brazilians respond? Any chances of success hinge on today’s game against Portugal.
Rio de Janeiro
I am always surprised when I ask Brazilians which team will win the World Cup, and the answer is not a quick and emphatic “Brazil, of course.” Most weigh the possible outcomes: the usual suspects Holland and Germany can’t be ruled out (just a few days ago Spain was also on the list); Belgium could do something amazing. I always find this strange because whenever anyone asks for my forecast I invariably say “The United States, of course.”
The response is usually greeted with laughter (sometime more than is really called for), and then a short explanation of why this is not possible.
We’ve had a week of the World Cup now, and here’s my first impressions. This is not a promise to do this every week.
Lots of dudes
I was in Berlin for the 2006 World Cup, and I spent a few years thinking about the arrival of the 2014 World Cup, so I really should have expected this. I admit to my stupidity. I admit I was surprised to see that the vast, vast majority of World Cup fans who have arrived are groups of men.
As the World Cup kicks off in São Paulo today, Claire Rigby presents Brazil’s big bad city and reveals its best-kept secret: a heart of gold
World Cup visitors, welcome to South America’s biggest, baddest metropolis. São Paulo’s reputation precedes it like a shadow, slinking ahead with tales of hardship, violence and crime, and more recently, of a wave of protests, strikes and mass occupations. The city’s mean-streets image are enough to give even Brazilian visitors a moment’s pause as they approach its sprawling perimeter for the first time.
Once inside the megacity, the often dystopian landscape doesn’t help. Despite its many lovely nooks and crannies, parts of São Paulo look like a city in the aftermath of an invasion – blackened, dusty and spattered with illegible graffiti, with what look like refugees roaming the streets, wrapped in blankets, bewildered. At the other extreme, featureless towers rise like luxury ghettoes from empty streets, with cars sliding in and out of their subterranean carparks silently, like drones.
You may have heard there is a large country called Brazil that will soon have a big soccer tournament. For those that would like to take that opportunity to brush up a bit on Latin America’s largest and most Brazilian country, I’ve compiled a list of links that make for good background reading. Most are from contributors to this blog, some are from other correspondents, and some from Brazilians.
There’s a lot here, so the idea is you could skim it and pick out some items as you wish. Organized by topic.
Before the 1970 World Cup, many Brazilians were skeptical about the team representing the dictatorship, and others actively opposed it. Before London 2012, many were disgusted by the way the Olympics were prepared. In both cases, fans came together when the action started. Might things turn around the same way this time?
Anna Jean Kaiser
Rio de Janeiro
Everyone is asking the same question. Will this be the World Cup where Brazilians put their foot down – where the dissatisfaction with the event will overtake the country’s love for soccer?
This is not the first politicized World Cup in Brazil, nor is it the first major world sporting event that’s been surrounded by criticism of the planning process. Despite the obvious reality of ongoing protests, history may lead us to believe that the population could come around once the games get started.
A recent controversial ruling against Afro-Brazilian religions has underlined shifts in the battle for Brazil’s religious identity. As the number of Catholics wanes, wealthy and growing Evangelical churches have used their considerable power to attack faiths such as Umbanda and Candomblé.
Rio de Janeiro
When federal court judge Eugenio Rosa de Araujo delivered his April 28th decision, concluding that Afro-Brazilian faiths such as Umbanda and Candomblé are not religions and not entitled to the protection afforded under constitutional discrimination laws, he had to know there would be hell to pay. Not from any otherworldly retribution, but from the large, active population of Brazilians who adhere to those faiths Araujo was denying legal protection.