Deep into overtime at the esteemed Maracanå, Mario Gotze controlled a cross from substitute Andre Schurlee, and then flicked it over the Argentine keeper, dashing the dreams of many South Americans.
It was a goal worthy of concluding what many pundits have called the greatest World Cup of all time. But soon enough, the afterglow faded. At a press conference just a day later, FIFA’s corruption, outdated methods and even misogyny from leader Sepp Blatter were all on display. And while these are FIFA’s and the soccer world’s issues, reality also set in for Brazilians.
Yet it’s impossible to separate the two entirely. Indeed, there were rumors that Brazil’s incumbent president would like to have used Brazil’s sixth title as a platform for re-election come November. A crushing 7-1 defeat at the hands of the Germans made this naught, and regardless, experts said that winning the golden trophy would not have had that much of an effect: Brazil always votes based on the economy.
In a sense the World Cup exhibited a successful Brazil. Yet in the time leading up to the tournament, critics were very vocal, suggesting the country lacked the infrastructure and security to pull off the world’s largest sporting event. Brazil disproved by critics with a well-run World Cup that was universally praised.
Shiny sheen aside, Brazil could have potentially ended up as the biggest losers of the tournament. And that doesn’t even include the actual matches.
The cost of the cup was estimated to be around $14 billion. Much of the planning was impractical. The most obvious example of this was the stadium in the jungle city of Manaus. Despite being a superb venue, the location is so remote that supplies had to be floated down the river. Worse, there is no local team that can even use the venue. Is this indicative of the World Cup’s economic model? And what does it mean for Brazil’s stagnant economy?
It’s impossible to know now, but previous records indicate that the ultimate impact on Brazil’s economy will be negative. Economic inquiries into the cups held in South Africa and the United states, in 2010 and 1994, respectively, suggest that host countries have a slim chance of ever breaking even.
To some Brazilians, the silver lining on the cup is that perhaps losing might make them more aware of their problem. They hope to address this when elections roll around.
– Andrew Rywak