The World Cup and the world’s protest in Brazil
“Everything in Brazil is a mess. There is no education, health care — no security. The government doesn’t care. We’re a rich country with a lot of potential but the money doesn’t go to those who need it most.” - 26 year old Brazilian photographer Manoela Chiabai, speaking to the AP.
The pre-match pleasantries exchanged before each Confederations Cup match belie a dark reality: the people of Brazil are boiling over, and soccer fans and social media mavens worldwide are facilitating their distress.
Over $13 billion has been spent by the Brazilian government on stadium infrastructure and investments related to the World Cup; $13 billion in a country where the income of the average Brazilian hovers around $400 per month. Add in the destruction of historic favelas to make way for a safer Brazil, a dubious stadium bid process and misused government grants, and you have a World Cup more accurately defined by corruption, gentrification and a suppression of the real issues plaguing Brazil, than any sort of sporting spirit.
Brazilian scholar Fabio Malini told the New York Times that “The largest protests are happening in cities which will host World Cup games. Brazilians are mixing soccer and politics in a way that is new, and minority voices are making themselves heard.”
Of course, this isn’t to say that the nearing World Cup is at the root of the ongoing social and political concerns which have led to friction amongst the Brazilian population. Inflation and unemployment are high, the disparity between social classes is expanding, and the poor are bearing the brunt of a new-found focus on globalization and international image; the World Cup is just a spark to long-brewing frustrations. People are suffering, and nothing could seem further from resolving their ills than oppressive concrete stadiums and soon-to-be abandoned hotels.
Brazil’s Forgotten Son
One of the characteristics of the Brazilian national team’s reconstruction during the present World Cup cycle is the uneven distribution of quality. There is significant depth in defense (especially in the center) and in defensive midfield, but the pool becomes drastically more shallow as one goes further up the pitch. In attacking positions there is a generational gap as the veterans of yesteryear have given way to inexperienced younger players.
Many members of this lost generation who were supposed to mentor these youngsters on the international stage have either lost their way, or are not of the requisite standard for the national team. (The likes of Vagner Love, Nilmar, and Diego Souza come to mind, among others.) Then there are those have been suffered from not being in the spotlight. Most of these have never been under consideration before, but there is one man who is an exception.
He was once considered to be the future number 10 of the Selecão, but the wilderness of international football has been his abode for nearly four years now. Yet there is an argument to be made that he deserves another chance, not only because of the current dearth of creative talent, but also on merit. It’s time that Brazil remembered its forgotten son, Diego Ribas da Cunha.
This time next year, where will we be?
2013 2014. We’re one year away from the best month, the one month that comes around every four years. The World Cup kicks off in 365 days. *Takes a deep breath, falls out of chair from excitement*