FIFA World Cup 2014 – introduction
It seems common now that in the build-up to any major sporting event, the media focus on the problems of a particular venue. So in recent times we have had stories of the 2000 Athens Olympics with stadiums barely finished before the Games started, the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi having accommodation that was ‘filthy, unhygienic and unfit for human habitation’ and the World Cup in South Africa in 2010 where the focus was on the ‘fears about crime, inadequate infrastructure and the pricing out of ordinary fans’. As recently as 2012 and the European Championship Finals in Poland and Ukraine, the media was telling us that the tournament was one that was going to be dominated by ‘racism and violence’.
And it is no different as we approach the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The papers, television, radio and internet have been awash with stories about stadiums and the country’s infrastructure struggling to be completed on time and a number of deaths as workers labour around the clock to try and meet the deadlines. Within Brazil, there are continuing protests around what has been spent on the hosting of the World Cup and the long-term poverty within the country. Concern has also been raised about hooliganism, although the focus has not been on (as in the past) those from Europe, but from within Brazil itself, as the recent death of a fan at one of the World Cup stadiums in Recife illustrated.
However, history tells us – or rather the media tells us – that come the start of the competition, all these ‘issues’ suddenly vanish. Do we as football fans actually care? Is it all simply about beer, BBQ’s and En-ger-land?
Perhaps for once, it would be good to stop and think about what has happened in Brazil. What about all those who have died in the building of the stadiums and the families left to struggle? What about all those who have been ‘cleansed’ from the streets of Brazilian cities? What is the financial and economic reality of hosting the 2014 and then the 2016 Olympics for the ‘ordinary’ Brazilian citizen?
These are questions that many people will not consider as Brazil take on Croatia in the opening game tomorrow, but before we all simply become swallowed in the media glow of the 2014 World Cup, it might be good to stop and just consider what lies below and what the real ‘legacy’ of Brazil 2014 will be.