World Cup Brazil 2014 - in the end, everything will be fine?

Mr João Guilherme Barbosa de Amorim

Professor Victor Manoel Cunha de Almeida

Posted: June 8, 2014

Tagged: economy / events / impact / legacy

In June of 2013, a number of large protests were triggered throughout Brazil. After the first spark, an eruption of dissatisfaction began. This feeling of resentment that arose was channeled against various issues, such as the lack of representativeness of the political class, corruption, lack of basic services such as healthcare and education, among others, even splattering on the big events that the country will receive: the World Cup and the Olympic Games.

Despite not being the main fuel of the protests, the popular demonstrations did put both events at the center of a much more critical and vigorous debate. The World Cup, especially, a nationwide event due to occur in less than one year, was put under even closer scrutiny and revealed a number of misconceptions of planning and execution. However, to understand the paths taken by public opinion in Brazil recently, it is necessary to adopt a retrospective approach.

First, before addressing aspects directly related to the World Cup, it is important to contextualize the economic situation of the country. In 2007, the year in which Brazil was announced host of the tournament, the GDP growth was 6.1%[i], the inflation was 4.46%[ii] and the country received the largest volume of foreign direct investment in its history[iii]. In contrast to this euphoric conjuncture, in 2013, the Brazilian GDP has grown 2.3%[iv] and inflation was 5.91%[v]. Therefore, irrespective of the occurrence of any event, it is understandable that the Brazil of 2014 is less optimistic than seven years ago.

In 2007, when Brazil was officially announced as the host country of the World Cup 2014, then-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said, “The receptivity of our people, be assured, will mark the history of the World Cup”[vi]. Given that the tournament combines two known passion of the Brazilian people, football and celebration, it is easy to understand the initial excitement that surrounded the event and spread throughout the population.

After almost seven years, however, much of this initial excitement has waned. Demonstrations against the event have become increasingly common, especially in large Brazilian cities that will host matches of the tournament. On the internet, negative feelings and opinions multiply: blogs, videos and postings on social networks spread criticism of various natures.

To understand what has caused such commotion, it is important to consider some of the key assumptions disclosed concerning the organization of the World Cup. Initially, the construction of new stadiums and remodeling of the existing ones to the standards required by FIFA would cost approximately R$ 2 billion[vii], and most of these investments would come from the private sector. The government, in turn, would focus its efforts on infrastructure, especially related to urban mobility and public transportation[viii].

In 2009, however, it became apparent that the practice would be different of the official discourse. Unlike previous World Cups, held in eight cities, the Brazilian government decided to make the event in twelve, under justification to make it for all Brazilians. In practice, this decision was the result of a political dispute between state governors, eager to receive matches of the tournament in an election year. This decision made the estimated cost of the stadiums rise to approximately R$ 3.7 billion[ix]. Currently, the total cost to the stadiums reached around R$ 8 billion[x], or four times the amount originally reported. Whereas not all stadiums are fully completed, it is difficult to predict how much the final amount will be. Furthermore, according to the latest official government report, only 1.7% of the cost of the stadiums will be purely private investments, while 98.3% will be paid or financed by the public sector[xi].

The public, in general, simply reacted to the exposed problems, which contributed to an escalation of criticism against the World Cup. According to surveys conducted by Datafolha, one of the largest research institutes in Brazil, the percentage of Brazilians who oppose to the World Cup continues to grow: it was 10% in 2008, rose to 26% in 2013, to 38% in February of 2014 and reached 41% last April[xii].

However, despite all the negative opinions related to the event itself and how its organization has been conducted so far, even those that are openly against the World Cup are experiencing some sort of mixed feelings. To successfully undertake such a major event in the country would serve as a statement, a message, not to the world, but especially to ourselves. Brazil has historically been considered the country of the future, and a distant one. During the last few years, when the term BRIC became so fashionable and the whole world was asserting that Brazil was taking off, we started to believe it. This might have been a good chance to finally change the perception that we used to have about ourselves, but, unfortunately, it looks like we missed the opportunity.

IO Globo (04/11/2009). PIB Brasileiro cresceu 6,1% em 2007. Retrieved from [Link]

IIBanco Central do Brasil (28/06/2008). Histórico de Metas para a Inflação no Brasil. Retrieved from [Link]

IIIAlexandro Martello (28/01/2008). Brasil fecha 2007 com recorde de investimentos diretos, diz BC. Retrieved from [Link]

IVPaula Adamo Idoeta (27/02/2014). Brasil contraria temor de ‘recessão técnica’ e cresce 2,3% em 2013. Retrieved from [Link]

VBanco Central do Brasil (28/06/2008). Histórico de Metas para a Inflação no Brasil. Retrieved from [Link]

VIEstadão (30/10/2007). Lula: 'Brasil fará Copa para nenhum argentino botar defeito'. Retrieved from [Link]

VIIThomas Pappon (30/10/2007). Fifa confirma Brasil como sede da Copa do Mundo de 2014. Retrieved from [Link]

VIIIPablo Uchôa (08/07/2010). Lula promove Copa de 2014 e faz promessa de transparência. Retrieved from [Link]

IXDiego Salgado (01/08/2013). Custo dos estádios da Copa 2014 dispara e chega a R$ 8 bilhões. Retrieved from [Link]

XMinistério do Esporte (01/09/2013). Matriz de Responsabilidades Consolidada. Retrieved from [Link]

XIMinistério do Esporte (01/09/2013). Matriz de Responsabilidades Consolidada. Retrieved from [Link]

XIIDatafolha (04/04/2014). Apoio à Copa do Mundo no Brasil segue em queda e alcança o índice mais baixo. Retrieved from [Link]

About João Guilherme Barbosa de Amorim

João Guilherme Barbosa de Amorim is Researcher of the Sports Marketing Research Center at The Coppead Graduate Scholl of Business, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He received his MsC in Marketing from The Coppead Graduate Scholl of Business, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

About Professor Victor Manoel Cunha de Almeida

Victor Manoel Cunha de Almeida is Marketing Professor and Director of the Sports Marketing Research Center at The Coppead Graduate Scholl of Business, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He received his PhD in Marketing from The Coppead Graduate Scholl of Business, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.