Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Lifestyle: Brazil and the World Cup

Brazil and the World Cup - why I'm in favor of a festive event with no incidents.

Brazilians should be ecstatic, more than euphoric, after all, 2014 World Cup opening day on June 12th is just around the corner. Instead, there are plans for public demonstrations against the Cup. Against FIFA. Against Brazil's government. Why now?

Brazil's socioeconomic issues are not new. However, the ridiculous expenses lavishly wasted on new state-of-the art stadiums for the Cup, and recent scandalous money laundering by the government, have awaken the giant. Prohibitive health costs and unsanitary conditions of many public hospitals are escalating;  unprepared teachers, lack of educational materials and a deteriorating public school system, have awaken the giant. 

In a nutshell - and this is tip of the iceberg only - money spent on stadiums vs no money spent on health, education and basic needs in general, is the cherry on top that awakened the giant. But this is still a very sensitive and polemic topic to discuss. As a Brazilian, football, is in your blood. You are born with the love for the sport. After all, Brazil has been to all the 19th previous competitions and won 5 times, more than any other country. Brazil has also hosted the World Cup back in 1950.

The image of the country seen outside of Brazil is different than what Brazilians experience. As the country is being portrayed somewhat in a positive light, with steady economic growth, the population experiences the highest taxes in the world, a continuous inflation where a PS 4 will cost close to US$1,000 or more, education is lacking, and the health system is shameful. Doctors complain about the lack of proper materials and basic sanitation in the public hospitals, where it's common for patients to wait days on the floor without assistance. Brutal, awful, cruel reality, which has now, finally, seem to have hit the conscience of the people, resulting in a country-wide dissatisfaction with the current political regime. It's better now than never. This year, there will also be presidential elections. But the World Cup is threatened. Threats of manifestations, barricades to prevent spectators into the stadiums, anger and aggression directed at the soccer players are out there.

I don't agree with such demonstrations during the World Cup. I agree that the giant needed to wake up. No doubt about that. After all, corrupt politicians have been controlling the country for many years, and it's time to stop it. So let's barricade the Congress and not allow these law makers and thieves of the public money to be empowered once again. Let's demonstrate against corruption before and during the elections. Let's show our dissatisfaction towards the politicians, not the players. Election is around the corner.

Let's welcome, with open arms, the visitors who are eager to experience Brazil's culture, beauty, beaches and football. Let's play a fair and beautiful game by treating them with respect. Let's show the world that, although we do have problems, we are good hosts and will handle our dirty laundry when the guests are gone. Let's celebrate the sport that brings us closer together, the ecstasy of a goal, the colors, the screams, the flags, the beauty of this diverse spectacle that, for one month every four years, brings excitement to the world.

My hope is that the giant doesn't go back to sleep after the World Cup. When we need to be alert, awaken and conscious of our choices the most, is with a vote coming up in the next few months. Not during a festive time. The World Cup is a done deal. Brazil was chosen, it is the host. Now let it happen, without incidents, and let's get over it. Get ready to show what we are made of. Presidential elections 2014 - the next chapter. Let the World Cup be.

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