No one truly can deny the universal appeal of soccer throughout the world. Kevin Alavy, a sports analyst at Futures Sports + Entertainments quaintly stated that the innate popularity of the sport comes “down to its simplicity,” allowing to it reach from metropolitan England to poorer, rural nations such as Uganda.

Since the birth of FIFA, or the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, the organization had worked tirelessly to bringing soccer into the forefront of worldwide sports, creating the FIFA World Cup tournament in 1930.

Brazil received the honor to host the 2014 World Cup, and has made huge strides to build the immense stadiums and prepare the nations for the millions of people who will be attending the event.

Despite the frenzy behind hosting this popular world event, Brazil’s economic and political issues have come to the forefront. Brazilian citizens have rallied together against increasing taxes, political corruption, the lack of essential resources, and the use of public funds to finance the World Cup.

Despite the bad press, Brazil has been heralded as a member of BRICS, comprised of the nations “Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.” These nations have shown a massive growth of a vibrant middle class, with over 40 million people escaping poverty.

The new lifestyle  of the  Brazilian middle class has brought new luxuries such as cars, cell phones, and better homes. In spite of these developments, an assortment of problems such as the lack of an educational system, lack of basic heath needs, rising prices for public transportation and poor sanitation have became hot topic issues.  Walter Salles, noted Brazilian film director, condemned the amount of public spending used for the World Cup. He argued that Brazil spent “twice as much” on “constructing stadiums for the World Cup” than on “basic sanitation.”

Brazilian officials have argued that this is not the case, stating the “18.1% of government expenditure” is used on education, a major issue the protesters are railing for. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has argued that despite these improvements, public education has barely improved, with only 77% of students age 15-19 being enrolled as full-time students.

“Nao vai ter Copa” or “There will not be a World Cup” is now an immensely popular slogan for the impoverished people of Brazil. The World Cup proved to be one of the major catalysts that pushed the populace to protest against the government’s mishandling of the economy.

Other protesters, such as lawyer Bruno Boaventura, argue that the real issue lies in the public not having a voice in regards to an event involving tax-payer money, stating the public was not “involved in any of the decisions.”  Over 30 billion reis, or 13 billion USD, is being spent on the event.

Brazilian officials, as well as FIFA, have both argued the World Cup spending will be beneficial to the Brazilian economy, arguing that Brazil is bound to gain 112.8 Billion Reais, or $52 billion US dollars from hosting the world cup. Protesters feel like they should have been a part of decisions in regards to their tax payer money. The only thing they both can agree on that this is a contentious issue that needs be resolved before the World Cup begins on June 12, 2014.

Joseph Abay

Sources: BBC, Bloomberg, ESPN, USA Today, Forbes, CNN, Soccer Lens, Huffington Post, Bleacher Report, The Guardian
Photo: DW