The 2014 World Cup is the most expensive in history, with costs estimated at $11.5 billion. Meanwhile, a large percentage of Brazil’s population still must deal with the country’s multitude of social problems.
Protests began in earnest last summer, when the country hosted the 2013 Confederations Cup. Those protests have continued right through to the buildup of the World Cup, with Brazil’s citizens attempting to draw attention to woeful inadequacies in education, healthcare, and public transport.
But, now that the eyes of the world are about to be even more heavily focused on Brazil, the country’s president, Dilma Rousseff, is urging citizens to support the tournament. Rousseff insisted that, since 2010, the country had spent more than 200 times what was spent on stadiums on education and healthcare.
“I’m certain that, in the 12 host cities, visitors are going to mix with a happy, generous and hospitable people and be impressed by a nation full of natural beauty and which fights each day to become more equal,” the president said.
Yet it may be too late to change perceptions about Brazil. As fans arrive for the tournament, more and more stories emerge about the lack of readiness to host such a major event. A subway strike has been temporarily avoided, but it may resume on Thursday, just in time for the first match. Promised metro lines were never delivered, leaving most fans to rely on buses and taxis – and keep in mind, São Paulo suffered a 214-mile long traffic jam last month. Visitors are standing in lines for hours at passport control upon arrival into Brazil, missing connections on to cities where they planned to spend the tournament.
As NBC’s global correspondent, Bill Neely, writes:
The government has been desperately trying to whip up enthusiasm for what’s to come, urging Brazilians to stage the “copa das Copas,” the greatest World Cup of all time. More likely, the country will scrape by.
Most fans – at least those outside Brazil – will only see the excitement and joy that comes with watching the World Cup. But, despite President Rousseff’s impassioned speech, it is likely Brazilians will continue to protest, attempting to show the watching world that they’re not content to simply “scrape by.”