Two days before the beginning of the World Cup, The New York Times released a simple survey with three questions concerning the opinion of people from 19 of the 32 countries that are participating in the championship. Among these questions, they asked** which team people rooted against**; and the answers were interesting: they had nothing to do with football, but with each country’s history, and current or past conflicts. Argentina, for example answered *England *in the first place. Mexico and Russia answered U.S.A., and Japan and South Korea voted against each other. Brazil, the country where I am from, never had a significant conflict that resulted in us hating some other country… so we sticked to the derby and answered Argentina.
The most interesting part is that there was also a second place to be chosen for that question. *Brazil *was selected by both Argentinians and Brazilians themselves. This sole figure is a summary of what has been happening since the year 2006 until today or, going further, since we are a free nation.
When Brazil was selected as the host of the World Cup, it was great. 3 years later, Rio was announced as the host of the Olympic Games. We were living a very optimistic moment and we saw both events as opportunities to reinvent ourselves. We were inspired by Germany’s structure and Barcelona’s major urban changes and were all very excited about the possibilities of our future. For a very short time, there was a general feeling of pride that reached even the most pessimistic of our citizens.
It didn’t last long, though. A short while after the second event was announced we all realized that nothing was actually happening. It took very long to see the first glimpses of work being done around the city and, shortly after that, the first big cases of corruption popped out. And so, our excitement started fading off along with our hopes for a better country. It all seems dramatic… but consider this as a 5-year process with **a lot **that should have happened that did not. We all started to get angry, and this had not be seen in our population since the early 1990’s, when we had a president’s impeachment.
It wasn’t a single fact that led us to the massive protests and riots of 2013. The big cities that were going to be the hosts of the events went through a big inflation, even though their infrastructures aren’t any better than twenty years ago. Besides, because everything was running late, all the roadwork and arrangements for the World Cup and the Olympic Games that could have been done so long ago, were being done at the same time. It all turned our everyday life into a mess and, soon, the poor and late planning started taking away the good things we had. For the first time Brazilians were not ‘happy despite everything’. We could no longer ignore ‘everything’.
And so we blamed the World Cup. Well, of course not only the World Cup. We blamed FIFA, the government, ourselves, the manipulating media. It was only fair – it had been so long since the last time we got angry as a unit that we could only spread the blame above us all.
But as the protests and riots didn’t result in any improvement, and the Police started to get very violent, people stopped going out to the streets because they were afraid. We thought, by then, that the World Cup wouldn’t happen. We had no expectations about it and we were very frustrated to see Brazil the way it is right now. We did not believe in our squad, we nurtured no special feelings for our players and we were only waiting for the worldwide shame we would go through starting on June 12th. You can see, from what I said at the very beginning of this text, that we suffer from a lack of self-esteem.
From the beginning of the championship until now, I can only conclude that Brazil has more supporters than we expected. I have been receiving many messages from my foreign friends who were super excited about the World Cup in Brazil. There is a special excitement about the fact that this specific cup is taking place here. Rio was suddenly invaded by tourists, all of them visibly aroused. Copacabana became a temporary district of Buenos Aires, Chileans took Leblon and you could spot outsiders everywhere. Therefore, we got wrapped in excitement. We may have had a lot of problems, but we are good hosts and we just love receiving tourists.
Since people from everywhere around the globe became to arrive, our flag started popping on the windows. Day after day since the very beginning of the World Cup, our citizens started to erase the general frown from their faces. We became excited about how frantic the foreigners were, and shyly proud that this edition of the tournament was being claimed as the best one ever.
No, our problems didn’t disappear but if there is something this World Cup brought back to us, is our hope. Even though our politics or economics are not going so well, it seems like people see the current situation as something capable of driving change; even if it takes time and effort, there is still hope. We are again rooting for a better country,and this feeling may have brought back to us the so called World Cup legacy.