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The Two Faces of the FIFA World Cup
There are two clashing faces with their eyes on Brazil; those in passionate support of the 2014 Federal International of Football Association (FIFA) World Cup, and those in stark opposition.
During the months leading up to the tournament a cloak of overwhelming corruption and scandals has crippled the usual upbeat and vivacious energy of Brazil.
The construction of 12 stadiums defied the original construction promise of only eight. The four extra stadiums sucked a large sum of money reserved for education, infrastructure and medicine.
The recently built stadium in the Amazonian jungle of Manus will host four games during the World Cup – probably the only games that stadium will ever see. The region lacks a division one team, and hence is seen as a complete waste by many.
The country has confronted both their government and FIFA with harsh criticism.
Financial spending and false promises have triggered violent protests, and the powerhouse cities of São Paolo and Rio de Janeiro have hit headlines with several anti-World Cup protests involving riot police fired rubber bullets, percussion grenades and teargas.
“By this time, the country would be completely decorated in green and yellow,” said Carioca Carla Bretas, a Rio de Janeiro native. “A tourist wouldn’t recognize the difference, but all Brazilians are aware of its hindered spirit.”
Different methods of protesting have formed, such as the waving of posters saying “FIFA GO HOME,” or the creation of graffiti pieces. One street artist, Paulo Ito, sprayed an image of a tears streaming down a young boy’s face while attempting to eat a soccer ball. The work has become an iconic representation of the social discontent with the World Cup.
“Like most Brazilians I feel very angry and upset about how much the World Cup is costing us,” native Carioca Felippe Stellet. “I believe the reasons for the protests are way bigger and more important [than the World Cup].”
Protests have continued with the beginning of the games, but are weakening in strength and numbers. Bretas explained that football flows in Brazilians veins, so national pride is becoming contagious.
“Of course people are upset of the high cost, but as long as it’s going on [World Cup] people are becoming enthused as the days go by,” Bretas said.
Stellet described how the union of so many different nations and their passion for both their country and the game is “cool and beautiful.”
“Because of all of that I feel something different in my heart, which makes me support Brazil and hope we can become champions, because I know that would be amazing for our people and our beautiful history as a football team. I even bought a Brazilian t-shirt to use during the matches,” Stellet said.
The mix of emotions can be illustrated through a colorful mural splashed in Brazilian colors blue, yellow and green while hanging from the Marina All Suites in Leblon. Toz, the famous street artist, took five days to complete the project.
Since the World Cup kick off, protests are becoming less and less visible to the incoming tourists.
“Although there have been protests I haven’t seen them. I felt a good and festive ambiance with many different countries uniting for the same passion,” said Juan Sanchez, Honduran tourist.
“My experience so far is that people are everywhere, and they seem happy, kind and fun. The opposition hasn’t been very visible so far,” said Justin Lott, a U.S. tourist and Old Dominion University student.
Regardless of the corruption and scandals, several fans have traded their “FIFA GO HOME” posters for trumpets and flags – at least during the games.
By Maria Victoria Creamer
Arts and Entertainment Editor
Mace and Crown