Fifa Go Home by MULL – CC.BY.40
A week to go until the big day when Brazil kicks off the World Cup. There are another 4 days until the city I live in hosts its first game, and they are going to need every last-minute of it because they are still working furiously away on the stadium and the surroundings as I write this.
But the state of the stadiums is not my big fear. A couple of them might not be perfect and make use of temporary structures, but that isn’t the end of the world. Neither is the fact that only a few of the stadiums will have wifi and so fans will have to rely on the mobile networks to post their selfies.
Nor am I too worried about transport problems. The people who matter (the players) will get to where they have to go to, and the fans will probably be a bit delayed, but unless they are travelling at the last-minute they will see the games. There might be a bit of stress involved, but that’s what you get when you travel around such a big country.
Some people have suggested crime might be a problem, and yes, if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time you might be a victim. But, to be honest, this could happen anywhere. So long as you don’t wear your Rolex watch and flash the cash you should be ok.
There will be some, or a lot of, protests. This should be good and not a problem for the staging of the tournament. I am glad that Brazilians have started to take matters into their own hands and protest about what they see as unfair conditions in the country.
My big fear, though, is related to the protests. It is the way the authorities deal with protestors and large group of (often drunken) fans.
Brazilian police car (Wikipedia)
The police in Brazil are under-trained and badly prepared to deal with large groups of people. They are also, more often than not, pretty badly paid and over-worked which doesn’t help matters. Their default setting when dealing with large groups of people who are not acting in exactly the way the authorities would like is to shoot first and then deal with the consequences. The way they reacted to the start of the protests last year only served to fan the flames of indignation among a large part of the population. they tried to control the message and blame the demonstrators, but forgot that people have access to videos on their phones and were shown up to be the liars they are when images quickly flashed all over youtube and the rest of the internet.
Brazilians know this. Most Brazilians have a healthy fear of the police which means they do anything possible to not be in the same vicinity as them.
But the foreign fans probably don’t know this. I can see drunken English fans, with their reputation for hooliganism, intimidating a few police, whose only answer will be to fire rubber bullets into the crowd to disperse them. I can imagine German fans not wanting to leave a city centre square after a resounding victory and the police encouraging them to do so with liberal use of pepper spray. How the fans would react to this escalation in violence I would not like to guess, but I can guarantee that the police and friendly media organisations will blame it all on the fans.
I hope I am wrong. I hope the different sets of Military Police (they don’t police the armed forces, they are the police in a military structure) the state police, municipal police and all the soldiers on the streets will be able to manage both the protestors and the foreign fans sensibly and calmly.
The police are my one big fear.
Are Brazil’s Police Reformable? – Huffington Post
A video purporting to show some police reaction from the start of the protests a year ago. – Salad Uprising
Can Brazil’s Police Keep the Peace? – A Brazilian Operating in This Area
How England’s World Cup dreams always end up. (@Doug88888)
In case you hadn’t heard, the World Cup is about to start here in Brazil. As an Englishman living here I am just thankful that England managed to qualify because I don’t think life would have been bearable trying to deal with the build up knowing that I wouldn’t have much of a part in it.
As it is, I am much more relaxed about this World Cup than I have been for a long time. The reason is that I know England haven’t got a cat in hell’s chance of winning it, so I don’t need to worry about broken bones or Rooney’s fitness. I am happy to see a young and exciting England team that might be pretty good in Russia, but is just along for the ride and the experience here. If we can qualify for the knock-out phase I think most English people would be happy.
The same cannot be said for most of my Brazilian friends and family.
First of all there is immense disappointment at the way the preparations for the tournament have been handled. This has led to many people not getting overly excited by what should have been the highlight of many people’s lives. The excitement is starting to rise slightly, but not like I had imagined it would be when Brazil was initially awarded to right to host the competition.
Secondly, there is the fear that they don’t have the team they need to win the World Cup.
It has almost become a cliché to suggest that the loss Brazil suffered in 1950, the last time the World Cup was here, against Uruguay in the final caused the country a lot of heartache. Some people have even suggested that the defeat was at least partially responsible for a national feeling of inferiority that has only started to be lifted in recent years with an improving economy. Most Brazilians are also only too aware that, until Spain won the last World Cup, they were the only winners never to have actually won at home.
They feel that their team is a bit lightweight to change things and finally win on home soil. Apart from Neymar, they are very weak up front and might well struggle to score the goals they need. However, they have a manager who has been through all of this before and won the tournament with a very conservative attitude, and this might well be what the team needs.
A Divided House
Our house obviously has divided loyalties. My wife will be supporting Brazil, but if/when they go out would take an interest in England, if we are still in it. If not, she’ll probably support Spain because they have the best looking players.
My son, who will celebrate his 3rd birthday just after the final, is supporting Brazil and will shout their name out a punch the air whenever you ask him. If you ask about England, he just shakes his head and repeats ‘Brazil!’ I would like to encourage him to support England, but he deserves better than that.
I will of course be supporting England from pubs for as long as we stay in it. When they go out I don’t think I’ll be supporting Brazil right away, instead I’ll cheer for Uruguay if only to wind up as many of my friends as possible.
World Cup for Kids
During the World Cup I’ll be posting blogs about England and Brazil as part a project hosted by Multicultural Kid Blogs that aims to look at the tournament through the eyes of kids around the world. You can find more blogs and ideas by going to the World Cup for Kids page and clicking on the country or countries you are interested in.