Events

Events

A battle between reason and emotion

Ms Mariana Guará Rocha Coelho

Mr João Guilherme Amorim

Professor Victor Manoel Cunha de Almeida

Posted: June 8, 2014

Brazilians have a long and intense relationship with football and the FIFA World Cup. Football is by far the most practiced and watched sport in the country[i], and the Brazilian squad is the only national team to have participated in every edition of the World Cup, being also the most victorious one, currently holding five world titles. Brazil is also the home country of some of football’s greatest legends, like Ronaldo, Romário and Pelé, the latter being the youngest World Cup winner ever, winning 3 out of 4 World Titles played and probably the most famous Brazilian citizen on earth. This unlikely success in such a popular sport worldwide turned football a part of Brazilian identity, associated with a sense of pride and joy unmatched by any other trait.

The World Cup is the second biggest sport event in the world, just after the Olympic Games, having reached a total audience of 3.2 billion people around the world in 2010[ii]. In Brazil, it is even bigger. Every four years, as the event approaches, the excitement rises and spreads among the population, as people start getting ready for it. Green and yellow merchandise is purchased, the schedule is carefully studied, meetings are organized, homes and streets are decorated and even some holydays are enacted. This time around, some things seem to be different.

Since the Confederations Cup last year, when over 1.4 million people took the streets in 130 cities all over Brazil in historic protests[iii], the media, both in Brazil and abroad, has started to monitor popular support for the event. Even though the World Cup didn’t trigger the protests directly, FIFA and the event were brought up many times among diffuse demands for transparency, a better use of public money and more investments in public transportation, health and education.

Because there was not – and still is not – a homogeneous understanding of FIFA’s or Brazilian government’s role in the World Cup organization, their names were present in the protesters’ speech in different ways. The term Fifa standard, usually only applied to the arenas, started to be used by some with irony, as a label for quality, in demands to all kinds of basic public services Brazilians lack, e.g. “We want Fifa standard hospitals”. Others showed dissatisfaction with corruption and the lack of transparency in the use of public money. But there were also direct attacks at FIFA and the tournament as well. Some protesters deemed the World Cup to be an inadequate investment of public money, since so many other social priorities exist. Others even blamed FIFA for the way things were being conducted locally.

Regardless of the actual liabilities, the protests did fuel the debate in every sector of Brazilian society. The media started to report news and different denounces about the event organization every day, which the social networks quickly helped to proliferate. Some included not only governmental aspects but also FIFA’s governance issues, its many corruption scandals and polemic declarations by Joseph Blatter[iv] and Jérôme Valcke[v], FIFA’s president and general secretary, respectively.

Now, almost a year after the breakout of the protests that brought both FIFA and the World Cup to the foreground of discussions, the Brazilian people seem to be even more disappointed, frustrated and confused. While the opportunity of hosting once again an event of this magnitude would normally make the country be taken by ecstasy and excitement, watching all the problems surrounding the preparation for the event is making a lot of the positive expectations turn into shame. Many promises made by Brazilian government were not fulfilled, such as the construction of arenas with private investments[vi] and much needed improvements in transport infrastructure in various host cities[vii]. In addition, there were delays in the conclusion of many projects related to the World Cup, overspending[viii] and not yet confirmed denounces of corruption. Finally, Brazilians are confused because, despite of the negative scenario, football and the National Team are still an important part of their identity.

Some Brazilians have always been opposed to the World Cup, believing football has been a means to control the people and keep them distracted from politics, a strategy allegedly utilised in the country by the military dictatorship regime propaganda in the 70s[ix]. Others want to simply enjoy the event regardless of its socio-political context. Now, for the very first time, it seems like a good portion of the population is living a dilemma about something that was believed to be the biggest Brazilian unanimity. The cheerful feeling of expectation that used to take over the country in the weeks preceding a World Cup simply is no longer there.

Brazilians seem to be living in a personal conflict, opposing reason and emotion, not knowing how to feel about this World Cup. On one side lies the love for football, the pride and feeling of belonging to the country that made the sport an art, and all the cherished memories of glories from past World Cups. On the other, arises the moral conscience that the World Cup was not organized as it should have been, or even that it was altogether inadequate for the country to host. While the doubt persists, it looks like the streets will remain undecorated and we will have to wait for the initial whistle of the opening match to see if the long awaited excitement and celebratory atmosphere will reappear.

IDeloitte (09/2011). Muito além do futebol - Estudo sobre esportes no Brasil. Retrieved from [Link]

II[Link]

IIIGlobo (28/6/2013). Resultados das manifestações de junho. Retrieved from [Link]

IVSporTV.com 16/06/2013. Para internautas, Blatter errou ao pedir 'fair-play' por vaias contra Dilma. Retrieved from [Link]

VGlobo 24/04/2013. Valcke: 'Menos democracia, às vezes, é melhor para organizar uma Copa'. Retrieved from [Link]

VICamila Mattoso, Igor Siqueira, Rodrigo Lois (19/06/2013). Gastos públicos com os estádios da Copa já passam de R$ 8,5 bilhões. Retrieved from [Link]

VIILucas Sampaio (14/05/2014). Nenhum aeroporto da Infraero ficará 100% pronto para a Copa. Retrieved from [Link]

VIIIDaniel Faveiro (27/11/2013). Estádios da Copa de 2014 custam 66% mais do que previsto em 2010. Retrieved from [Link]

IXHilário Franco Júnior (2007). Síntese do Brasil desigual e combinado. In A dança dos deuses: futebol, sociedade, cultura (pp. 138-145). São Paulo: Companhia das Letras

About Mariana Guará Rocha Coelho

Mariana Guará Rocha Coelho is Researcher of the Sports Marketing Research Center at The Coppead Graduate School of Business, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. She is currently completing her MSc in Marketing at the Coppead Graduate School of Business, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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 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.