Brazil's World Cup, one year on: Missing those days, despite missed opportunities
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Brazil's World Cup, one year on: Missing those days, despite missed opportunities

Reposted with permission from A Brazilian Operating in This Area

Brazilians went mad when a FIFA executive admitted Russia and Qatar could lose rights to host the next World Cups if there is proof they corrupted the process. No, it wasn’t because of a potential vote-buying scandal.

“Send it back to us,” “We are ready to do it again,” and “Give it back so we can lose to Germany once more” were some of the most common reactions in social media. Who would have thought of hearing that one year ago, in the middle of the global wave of defeatism and the blame-Brazil-for-the-worst-World-Cup-ever discourse?

(To be honest, I did think everyone would love it. It is in many posts in the archives.)

The only Brazil World Cup disaster deserving of that name

As it is now clear, most people here keep their criticism about the immediate costs of the tournament. Many of the projects that were delayed now seem to be forever delayed, which shows a disgraceful lack of commitment from authorities to their countrymen.

Still, Brazilians have little doubt about the success of the World Cup organization. Not only were none of the pre-World Cup horror stories confirmed, but foreigners also enjoyed being here. As a German colleague told me after the final, “Brazil is great, it feels more normal than the expected.”

It is only fair that, one year on, most of the stories about World Cup legacy will involve overpriced stadiums that are still empty, like those in Brasilía and Manaus. Those two, among others, came about because of political reasons. Their cost is highly suspicious and I have a hunch they will somehow appear in the ongoing FIFA scandal snowball. The FIFA standard arenas that make sense, including those in big capitals like Rio and Belo Horizonte, are now so mismanaged that they are often as unoccupied as the ones where professional football is a fantasy.

But one year ago, the problems that the media cared about were in the organization. There were stories of arenas collapsing during the tournament, dengue fever outbreaks, fans and teams being stranded in unfinished airports, a security crisis with unpredictable results, protests that would disrupt roads, subways and every possible means of transportation, riots after Brazil was hammered by Germany… The list could go on and on.

Read more: Brazil’s strange, upside-down World Cup: Bad football, good planning

All the catastrophic predictions were wrong. They were wrong because they were based on a provincial mindset.

One of those provincial traits that persist is the bashing of the World Cup for the fact it hasn’t brought immediate economic development to Brazil. Whoever buys that argument fails to understand that big sporting events are not meant for that — they are a marketing opportunity for the country and a good means to speed up construction that would have taken so much longer to build.

In Brazil’s case, for the sake of argument, it would have taken even longer than it did. A very clear example of that are the improvements for São Paulo’s arena, which sits in a degraded region. Or in Salvador’s subway system.

Continue reading at A Brazilian Operating in This Area