We are very pleased to be able to bring you an article from a Englishman living in Brazil who shares his views on the build up to the World Cup in a country that simply adores the beautiful game.
Stephen Greene is originally from England but has been living in Brazil for the last eight years. He lives in Curitiba, in the south of Brazil, with his wife and son. He writes about his experiences in Brazil with the build up to the World Cup, as well as life bringing up a bilingual son, at Head of the Heard.
The World Cup is practically here now. All the teams have arrived around the country, the stadiums are as ready as they are ever going to be and the sound of foreign languages can be heard struggling to communicate in all of the twelve host cities.
So who is the most nervous person in Brazil?
You might think it would be one of the coaches of the teams, but it probably isn’t them. They are all getting paid nice salaries and, while a couple of them might lose their jobs if their teams perform badly, they’ll probably find another job pretty soon.
Perhaps ‘Big’ Phil Scolari is in a worse position than the rest of the national team coaches? Well, it’s true that there is extra pressure on him due to the fact that his team is playing at home and his fellow countryman almost expect them to win the World Cup, especially after the nightmare of losing in the final against Uruguay the last time the tournament was here in 1950. But then again, Scolari is already a World Cup winning coach and, if most Brazilians are honest with themselves, they realise that there are stronger teams, for example Germany and Spain.
The same goes for the players. A few might be pilloried for missing a penalty or getting sent off at the wrong time, but fans have short memories and new football seasons will soon start, or re-start, for most of the players.
The fans are nervous. But then fans at this point are always nervous. And hopeful. And excited and a whole host of other feelings. The days immediately before a new tournament or season are often the best for fans because anything is still possible.
No, the most nervous person in Brazil right now is probably President Dilma.
You see, President Dilma faces re-election in November and she is favourite to win at this point. If all goes to plan, and Brazil puts on a good cup then she will probably win a second term. If the cup doesn’t go well, then anything is possible.
There are grumbles all over the country about the state of the preparations for the cup. Some stadiums, like in the city I live in, will only be finished the morning of the first game. Along with the stadiums Brazilians were promised the cup would bring other projects, such as airports, new public transport systems and new roads. Some of these have been delivered. Many are going to be finished after the cup. Some still haven’t been started.
Last year there were numerous protests during the Confederations’ Cup. At the moment there are protests again, but none that match the intensity of before. There are strikes all over the country, from the police to teachers to underground workers. There is a lot of anti-FIFA graffiti around. People want Brazil to win, but they’d rather have better hospitals and schools than world class stadiums that are only going to be used four times.
But they seem to be waiting. They aren’t as excited as might have been anticipated, but they are also staying at home, not going on to the streets in their millions as they did last year.
However, if Brazil play badly and go out early all this could change. They’ll probably get past the first round, but then they stand a good chance of meeting Holland or Spain and the real test starts. If the people of Brazil no longer have a stake in the World Cup then the protest could dramatically increase, the police will have to respond, and then who knows what will happen?
And who knows what will happen to President Dilma’s chances of re-election? That is why Dilma os the most nervous person in Brazil right now.