Not All World Cups – Giovanna Freitas, Brazil


The World Cup is one of the largest existing sporting events, unifying and connecting people from many countries worldwide through their passion for soccer; this event is very close to the hearts of millions of fans. Soccer is known as the sport of the people, mobilizing and uniting citizens of all classes. It is especially meaningful for the people of Brazil, a country that is known not only for its fanaticism and spirit, but also for producing some of the greatest athletes in soccer’s history, making it a great source of national pride. At a young age, children begin to learn and practise soccer, idolizing many of its star players. However, it is important to recognize the “dark side” of this event. La Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) exerts a lot of control over participating countries due to its high position in the global economy, distorting the value of football itself. The economic interest in the event ends up being more important than its cultural significance, causing conflicts of interest in holding the Cup, not only in Brazil but in all countries, especially those with high poverty rates. Taking into account Brazil’s current issues in relation to overpopulation and habitation; the World Cup brought a whole new set of problems in the form of a huge urban project with large economic, developmental, urban, environmental and social impacts. These included the forced removal of people living in areas that were designated for the building of commercial buildings. It is estimated that up to 250,000 people were displaced and relocated from their homes, all to satisfy the demands of the Cup and its huge fanbase. The removal occurred predominantly in poor communities. These are located in regions that over the years have risen and have been coveted by those who make profit from real estate appreciation. In response to protest, the government claimed to have just motives for the displacement of these people: to promote urban mobility, preserve the populations in question of environmental risks and improve living conditions.


Brazil had no infrastructure to carry out such a sizeable sporting event, so it was necessary to make large investments and carry out great actions in a short period of time. Contrary to the economic argument claiming, “the World Cup leaves a richer country”, the spending planned for the buildings often greatly exceeded the initial expected cost. This means that, unless the tourism also exceeds expectations, there will be no real social development or profit. The fact remains that a huge portion of public money was spent on the Games instead of the people, meaning that health and education funds were cut and neglected. This further highlights Brazil’s urgent need for huge investments and economic growth. The construction of stadiums (that are more like shopping malls than soccer fields) damage the expression of traditional Brazilian culture, as communities who once lived on the site are broken up. They encouraged the separation of social classes in football: now, only those who could afford it could watch the games. The privatization of stadiums, with the rising price of food and tickets, made the big soccer games the sport of the wealthy. There was a long period of protests against the Cup. While many football fanatics celebrated the execution of the sport’s biggest event, there were also indignant people who questioned the exorbitant spending and the resulting treatment of the population. The people of Brazil were severely repressed by the police, and their claims were invisible to the government. Millions of people took to the streets across the country to clamor against these events. This continued with the period of protests that erupted in 2013 against increases in bus fares; democracy was not taken into consideration when it came to this international event. Although the majority of the population was protesting peacefully, a small part broke into banks and burned objects, and committed other acts; violence and repression were for everyone.


In order to scare the public into thinking that to protest meant punishment, the police assaulted people, arrested under false pretenses and attacked demonstrators with rubber bullets and tear gas. The Government did not hear the demands and claims of the public, treating its people with disrespect, whilst abusing their power and the public’s money. Despite facing several problems along the way due to protests and civil discontent, the Government quickly executed the FIFA requirements for holding the Cup. They displayed a level of efficiency and attention never seen when it came to meeting the needs of the people. The organization and execution of the World Cup breached human rights, freedom of expression, and the right to housing of ordinary people. It is important that, even after its completion, the matter is still discussed because other events like this will continue to happen. Awareness and a critical sense of what is bad about these events should be promoted, especially as the issue is rarely discussed by mainstream media.

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