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What can be better than a FIFA World Cup in Brazil?

One of the most football-mad nations in the entire world, who not only have dominated this competition in years gone by, but done so in style.

Drama and deadlines: Will Brazil be ready for the World Cup?Names like Pele, Zico, Ronaldo, Jairzinho and so many more will live on in folklore as greats of the game. Many youngsters who do not have the slightest interest in football will support Brazil, because, quite frankly, the nation is synonymous with the competition.

So, in theory, it is the perfect scenario. Happy citizens mingling with tourists for one long party as we are enthralled by the greatest show in football; the World Cup.

In reality, the truth is that it is far from that rosy picture most of us imagine. We caught a glimpse of what really goes on in the Samba nation when the Confederations Cup came around, but only now the underbelly of Brazil has truly been exposed to the masses. Watching a documentary or such on television only shows you the beautiful side of Brazil; the vast beaches full of happy locals, the famous landmarks. In short, we see the best that the country has to offer. However, one of the largest economies in the world has hit a speed bump, and that has had a distinct influence on the locals and their morale. According to the Financial Mail, GDP growth has slowed from an incredibly conducive 7.5% in 2010 to just 0.9% in 2012, and continues to drop. This has raised the cost of living, and the people at the very bottom of the financial pyramid have been hit the very hardest.

Thus one can understand the protests that have went on throughout the past year and a half. We caught a glimpse of this during the aforementioned Confederations Cup, but things have not improved. Locals are enraged that millions upon millions of dollars have been spent on new stadiums and infrastructure, while they struggle in poverty, barely living above the bread line. However, one can understand the thinking behind the Brazilian government making the most of this opportunity to encourage an economic boom through tourism and the immense sponsorship and television revenue that comes along with a tournament of this scale. This, in theory, will then have a knock-on effect to the benefit of all Brazilian citizens.

The problem of huge overspending has arisen. FIFA estimated in 2007 that total stadium costs will not exceed 2.6 billion Reals, but close to four times that amount has been spent already. This has not been helped at all by the fact that the Brazilian government decided to build twelve brand-new stadiums, rather than the FIFA recommended maximum of eight. This could lead to the situation that emerged in South Africa after the 2010 event, where state-of-the-art stadiums became obsolete white elephants due to there being simply too many stadiums. And, to those not too familiar with South African domestic football, there are a vast amount of clubs who firstly already have their traditional stadiums where they have been for decades, and secondly have no need for a massive national stadium sized arena with running costs far outweighing profits.

The same situation could very well emerge in Brazil, and one can see why there have been numerous protests and even riots that have brought the economy to a standstill. Overspending leads to huge debt, which in turn will have to be paid off by profits made from the World Cup. This vicious cycle leaves the normal man on the street no better off than before, but the need for top brass to show off and flex their financial muscle in order to enhance their own reputations has seemingly taken centre stage.

“The Brazilian Government kills me with shame. Only the tourism industry will benefit in the end” – Beatriz Marson, a project manager from Sao Paulo, as quoted by the Financial Mail.

What has, of course, grabbed headlines on an international scale, is the amount of stadium construction related deaths and completion deadlines being missed. Even though stadiums have already been officially handed over to FIFA, work still commences due to accidents, delays and cost overruns. Add to that steep labour costs, then one can begin to grasp the hit that the Brazilian economy is taking. Many will argue that profits will eventually overcome costs and positively affect the economy and raise the standard of living for citizens. However, they said this about the 2010 World Cup in South Africa as well, and as a citizen of that country I can attest first-hand that it is not the case. While the economy might have boomed, nothing trickled down to the man on the street, with living costs continuing to rise regardless. This could also potentially be the case in Brazil after the 2014 showpiece event.

The majority of Brazilian citizens have realised this fact, and that is why unhappiness reigns supreme. My opinion is that the World Cup will go smoothly in the end, despite fears about unrest and stadium deadlines, because football unites everyone. However, the long-lasting consequences of this competition on Brazil could end up hurting the country more than many anticipate.

Originally published at thesportsbreakfast.co.uk

Post written by Marco Conradie
Blog: thesportsbreakfast.co.uk, Twitter: @MarcoConradie10

Note: The views expressed within this blog post are those of the contributing author, and may not necessarily reflect those of MatchDayApp Limited, its representatives or associated partners.

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