Brazil Carnival

Poll: Only 52% of Brazilians favor hosting 2014 World Cup


A Reuters report by Anthony Boadle claims a poll conducted in Brazil on Monday indicates that the number of Brazilians who favor hosting the World Cup has fallen to an all-time low.

The poll, conducted by Datafolha, showed that showed that only 52% favored hosting the World Cup this summer, down from the 79% approval rate measured in November 2008 when the country was awarded the host-nation gig. The growing discontent reaffirmed last week’s MDA poll, which found that 80.2% of Brazilians believed the billions of dollars spent to host the World Cup should have been directed towards healthcare and education.

The feeling that the tournament is a waste of money that could have been better spent elsewhere sparked massive protests last June over poor public services and the high cost of stadium construction. Since then the demonstrations have become smaller but more violent, with masked anarchist groups clashing with police.

Whereas 81% of Brazilians backed protests launched last summer when more than 1 million people flooded the streets to rebel against deficient public transport, education and health services, that number has since dwindled to 54%.

The Datafolha poll surveyed 2,614 people and was conducted on February 19th and 20th, one week after Santiago Andrade, a television cameraman, was killed by a firework during a protest concerning an increase in bus fares in Rio.

Other problems continue to persist in advance of the 2014 World Cup. Over the last few months there have been a handful of construction related deaths. Last week 1,000 anti-World Cup demonstrators clashed with police after retail and bank storefronts were vandalized in Sao Paulo. And yesterday a 34-year old Santos fan was beaten to death with iron bars following a 0-0 derby match with Sao Paulo.

For a country with a vibrant love and passion for the beautiful game, it’s becoming increasingly nebulous as to whether Brazil is ready – and safe – for this summer’s tournament.

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

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I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.