A million tourists from 186 countries were expected for the World Cup–even more came. The Brazilian soccer team lost, but did the country win?
Now the World Cup is about to finish and, despite a few unfortunate isolated occurrences, it has in many ways been a huge success. Brazilians are wonderful hosts. Even many of those who earlier opposed the event at the end of the day apparently gave in to the nationalist spirit that invaded the country once the competition started. There were protests, but they were only a few and happened during the first games. The police were harsh, as expected, but the confrontations with the protesters were not as violent as they had been imagined. Despite last minute construction work and delays on some sites, all stadiums were ready for the games. There were some incidents, though. An overpass that was built for the World Cup collapsed about two miles from the Mineirão Stadium, one of the sites of the games. Two people died. At least eight workers died during the construction phase of the stadiums. Nevertheless, one million tourists from 186 countries were expected in Brazil for the games, a number that was surpassed. Seventy percent of them came from Latin American countries such as Mexico, Chile, and Argentina, Brazil’s greatest rival in soccer. Some difficulty getting to a few of the stadiums, problems with fake tickets, and exceedingly high prices of hotels have not discouraged these tourists. National and international media now feature visitors complimenting the World Cup, boasting about the cities they visit, and highlighting the hospitality of the Brazilian people. FIFA’s FAN FEST has also been a hit. It has provided soccer fans with venues where they can watch concerts by renowned Brazilian artists. No matter who wins, the party is guaranteed.
The government hopes that these tourists will have such a great experience that they will return in the future. Now that Brazil is out of the competition, some of the old concerns are reappearing. Some believe that protests will continue as soon as the games end. There is also the expectation of strikes in some professional fields. The connection between the World Cup and the possible reelection of President Dilma Rousseff also remains strong. The failure of the event would in principle be fatal for the Workers’ Party. Nevertheless, not even the shameful defeat of Brazil’s national team to Germany seems to unsettle President Dilma’s popularity now. Many Brazilians regard her reelection as certain. The truth is it is still soon to tell how beneficial the World Cup will actually be to Brazil. Brazilians do hope that there will be more gain than losses, that tourism will benefit and that a few of the stadiums will not become white elephants. Moreover, Brazilians are trying to learn some lessons for the Olympic Games, which will take place in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
—Antonio Luciano de Andrade Tosta is Assistant Professor of Brazilian Literature and Culture at the University of Kansas