If you ask any Brazilian what they thought of the 2014 World Cup, the answer will most definitely be the same: ‘I can’t believe we lost to Germany, 7, 1 is such an embarrassment’. They are calling this World Cup the ‘Copa das Copas’, which, roughly translated, means the best Cup ever. Brazilians are known for being football fanatics, but being the host to the world’s most famous championship has brought the country under the spotlight. The contrast between ‘FIFA standard’ stadiums and poverty, inequality and bad governance stained the football spectacle that everyone was waiting for.

The entire country erupted in protests last year. More than 100 cities were marching together for one cause. The BBC called it the ‘million man march’ when one million Brazilians took to the streets to discharge their dissatisfaction caused by blatant corruption. It began in São Paulo with the rise of the bus fare but soon enough people were protesting against the World Cup spending, the deplorable situation of the public health service and the mediocre education system. ‘We want FIFA standards for hospitals and schools’ was plastered across the signs carried by peaceful protesters across the country. The march made the top headlines throughout the world alongside the violent encounters between protesters and the unprepared police force. The country witnessed hundreds of arrests and even deaths. The protests of June 2013 shifted the world’s attention to what was really going on in Brazil.

There were doubts that the country would be prepared in time for the championship. Some stadiums were lagging dramatically behind on the construction timeline, however FIFA’s President Sepp Blatter, wasn’t worried. He had no reason to be since FIFA didn’t pay any taxes to the Brazilian government. It turns out FIFA’s income for this cup was expected to be as high as 5 billion dollars, while the previous World Cup in South Africa earned them a revenue of approximately 2.4 billion dollars in television rights only. Where the money goes isn’t obvious, but it obviously isn’t to pay taxes. Under the Swiss law, FIFA is a non-for-profit association, which means that they don’t need to pay tax in Switzerland for their World Cup revenues. Apparently Brazilian law also exempts FIFA from paying federal taxes. Indeed, Brazil suffers from a lack of shame in the dirty world of politics.

The public cost of the World Cup was an estimated 12 billion dollars according to the Ministry of Sports. That is the equivalent of 61 per cent of what’s spent on education, and 30 per cent of the healthcare funding. Protests continued during the World Cup, but national idol Pelé asked the country to ‘take it easy’, for the sake of the national team’s confidence. That seems highly unfair for the 250,000 families that were evicted because of the constructions. Several indigenous families were evicted from a museum they were occupying next to the Maracanã because FIFA demanded the creation of a parking lot for 10,000 cars. The only beneficiaries of all of this were private construction and service industries.

Large and small companies made big profits due to the expected economic boost. But this doesn’t seem as impressive compared to the human rights abuses mounted by NGOs across the world. The world’s wealthiest football association combined with the world’s top footballing nation proved to be a nasty combination. Forced evictions, homelessness and death are the results of this mix.

During the construction of the stadiums – by private companies – eight workers died on the sites and 111 workers were reported to be working in slave-like conditions at the Guarulhos airport in Sao Paulo. The UN’s special rapporteur for housing, Raquel Rolnik, revealed a ‘lack of transparency… concerning evictions… for the World Cup’. She has worked alongside many Brazilian associations such as Conectas and National Coalition for a Local Community, to bring forward the homelessness and lack of compensation to those that have suffered the direct consequences of this footballistic spectacle. Around the Itaquerão, the stadium home to the opening match, approximately 4,800 homeless people now live in its surroundings, according to data from the Movement of Homeless Workers (MTST).

Cleaning up the favelas was top priority in order to make Brazil ‘look good’ for the World. Human Rights Watch has reported that 1,890 people died during police operations in Brazil in 2012. Street vendors, a common business in Brazil, weren’t allowed to work on the two kilometre exclusion zone surrounding the stadiums. Only ‘concessionaries’ could sell their overly priced food and beverages to the hungry spectators. NGOs such as Conectas and Justiça Global have raised awareness towards possible human rights violations by private security companies hired by FIFA to keep the area around the stadium safe. Protesters during the World Cup were considered ‘terrorists’ under the Brazilian law.

A large part of the Brazilian population was happy, if not relieved, that Argentina didn’t win the World Cup at the Maracanã, Football rivalry clouded our judgments as we cheered in favor of Germany and against our archenemy in the fields. When Dilma Rousseff handed the trophy to the overjoyed Germans, the entire stadium erupted in a cacophony of booing and impolite chanting. That was the second time she went to a match, and the second time the public complained. It seems fitting that she should be booed at the closing ceremony as well; after all, those able to pay for FIFA tickets are the taxpayers that fund her not-so-secret corruption scheme. It was a way of showing her that Brazil is still a democracy.

Now that the World Cup is over and Brazilians can go back to their daily lives, what the World Cup has left is not just a sense of disappointment, but also a reality check. The presidential elections are coming up in October and it seems as if Rousseff’s reelection is dependent on Brazil’s victory in the championship. Her success rate has dropped significantly, evidence that Brazilians may finally be ready to vote responsibly. Overall, the World Cup legacy in Brazil will last for years to come. The spending bonanza still isn’t over; the Olympics are around the corner. However, may the hypnotized football lovers in Brazil and around the world wake up and see the post-World Cup mess.

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