Tuesday 25 June 2013

Brazilian protests: Is the World Cup what Brazil needs?

After spending a couple of weeks in Brazil this year, I've naturally been interested in the protest movement that's grown over the last few weeks.

The protests have certainly shown the world another side of Brazil away from the usual stereotypes of sun, samba, football and carnival.

The protests have deflected attention from the Confederations Cup football tournament which acts as a test run for the World Cup.

One thing that's stood out is the growing anger and resentment towards next year's World Cup and Olympics in 2016.

This feeling is perfectly represented in this video I found by Carla Dauden. With all the problems facing the country, she explains why she won't be going to the World Cup next year - it's been viewed on Youtube more than 2.5 million times already!

Since the end of military rule in the 1980s, Brazil has made huge progress both politically and economically and the demonstrations are a consequence of this.

There's been a huge growth in the country's middle class, not surprisingly their expectations have grown considerably.

They're frustrated with slower economic growth, a decline in living standards and are no longer prepared to tolerate political corruption and mismanagement.

There's a number of countries in similar positions but the situation in Brazil is different with the two biggest sporting events taking place in the space of 2 years.

These events are only angering people further. How can a country with so much inequality, corruption and lack of investment in public services be spending so much money on sporting events.

This was a question I thought about when I visited one of Rio's Favelas in April. Our tour guide said the government is making more of an effort to address poverty and inequality but sporting events are limited in what they can do.

Brazilians want improvements in public services, health, education, schooling. The World Cup and Olympics rather than being great events to improve the country seem more like an insult to many people.

This week I read an article by former Brazilian footballer turned politician Romario, who argues many of the same points.

He originally thought the event would benefit the country, but now believes that the World Cup is only deepening the problems the country faces.

Before the 2012 Olympics we had many of the same discussions in the UK. Would the Olympics be of benefit to the country? Could we afford to spend so much money on a sporting event, when there were so many other important things the money could be spent on?

When you have major sporting events taking place in emerging countries like Brazil, these questions become even more important.

I want to believe and hope that the World Cup and Olympics will benefit Brazil and I'm sure that just like here in the UK there will be a great feel good factor.

But a country like Brazil needs a lot more than a feel good factor to make a long lasting difference to lives of millions of ordinary Brazilians.

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