“life is worth more than a goal”

Planning to move to Brazil in time for the World Cup was a must.

I feigned responsibility and argued that, economically speaking, it was the best time to arrive. I liked to rattle off that the demand for English teachers in preparation for the hordes of tourists would be exponential and I’d have students lining up ’round the block for private classes with yours truly.

While work has been good, I have to confess something:

I didn’t really just want to be here for the World Cup because of employment opportunities.

I wanted to be here for the fun, the excitement and the mad energy that the World Cup was sure to bring to a party happy country like Brazil!

I wanted all this, but I’m not sure that’s what I found.

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I started learning more of this negative sentiment towards FIFA, the World Cup and Brazil’s politicians in the early days of my move to Rio.

Once on a hike with my language school I saw a slum with a banner hanging high overhead written in both Portuguese and English. It said that the slum was their home, but they were being forced into eviction. Confused I asked our guide why they were being evicted. Her answer? Two words: World Cup.

As it turns out, these evictions are common place around the country. Read more here. In some cases (if lucky) resettlement packages are offered to the homeowner. These poor families can’t help but accept the offer even if it means abandoning what’s been their home for decades and leaving behind a sense of community they once had.

The evictions are administered for World Cup projects that range from widening roads to a sort of “ethnic cleansing”.

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And as if these evictions weren’t enough to give you mixed emotions about attending or just plain supporting the World Cup, let’s talk about the issue that affects not only residents of slums, but the ENTIRE country:

Government Spending

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It’s said that 30 billion dollars will be spent on preparations for the World Cup.

Let me paraphrase a (satire filled) sentence I’ve heard from numbers of Brazilian friends and students:

“Oh but we’ll have beautiful stadiums for our country that is full of hungry, uneducated and sick people.”

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Of course, like me initially, you must be trying to come up with some reason the World Cup can’t be all bad. Surely there will be money generated from ticket sales and tourism, right?

Unfortunately this money won’t be seen by the people.

Brazilians like to “affectionately” refer to the World Cup honchos as the FIFA mafia.

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“World Cup for who?” The big guys holding the cup are “politicians” and “contractors”. The little guy hanging on for dear life is “the people”

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Sadly, it will only be a case of the rich getting richer.

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As explained in a popular Anti-World Cup video on youtube, the popsicle seller on the beach will no doubt do better than average that week

….but will it really change his life?

So I suppose you’re wondering if I will cheer during the World Cup.

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the image shows a protester saying “There won’t be a World Cup” (a popular protest message) and Brazil fans laughing at him

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With an ambivalent mind I’ll watch and cheer for the national selection at the World Cup.

me in maracanã 2010

I mentioned to my Brazilian sweetheart a few days ago that in nearly a month I’d be turning the big 25. He asked what day. The 12th. He responded, “Oh Valentine’s day! I’ll take you somewhere reeeal special.” I retorted, “You’re forgetting it’s the opening game of the World Cup too.” Being the big soccer fan (flamenguista) he is, I assumed my bday/vday plans would be postponed for another day.  He looked at me, shrugged and repeated something again about taking me somewhere special.

Although I’m sure that even on my bday/vday we’ll find the chance to watch the game, I know that I’m not alone in this feeling of betraying the country while at the same time cheering for it.

In a song entitled “Desculpe, Neymar” (Sorry, Neymar) the composer expresses his sorrow for not being able to support his team “tired of seeing how [his] people die little by little”, but yet understanding why his opinion “won’t prevent [soccer fans], who earn little money and live a harsh life from going to the end together with [the] national soccer team.” 

 So beautifully written in the song’s ending does the composer give his blessing to soccer fans who will cheer despite the wrongdoings of FIFA and the Brazilian government.

“Mesmo sem grana pra pagar o ingresso caro
Nunca vai deixar de amar o
Nosso escrete aonde for
Eu sei, torcedor
É você quem tem razão” 

I know, soccer fan. It’s you who is right.

 

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