Last night before we headed out for a late dinner at a tasty local restaurant, the evening news broadcast showing on the living room T.V. was interrupted for a televised address from Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff. Thanks to the closed captions, my rudimentary Portuguese and help from my in-laws, it was clear this speech aired the evening two days prior to the opening ceremonies was meant to rally the nation to support the Copa do Mundo with the same passion and gusto Brasileiros have supported their Seleção to a record five World Cup wins over the tournament's 85 year history.
As you've may have noted from the coverage of the ramp up to the World Cup, the host nation has suffered both protests and strikes, raising issue with the level of investment made in building stadiums over investment in the needs of the citizens. Dilma's speech was aimed solely at addressing this criticism and as this post to ProSoccerTalk sums up nicely, "urged [citizens] to support the World Cup."
While I have no designs on commenting on who's right or wrong here, this NBC News Infographic did catch my attention. Sourced from the government's own facts and figures, it details the amount of money being spent on just the security for the 31 visiting national teams and the expected 3.7 million tourists coming to witness the games first-hand (like me).
As a "citizen-in-law" to Brazil, I do hope the growing divide between the rich and poor sees improvement over these coming years. As an outside-ish observer, you hope with both the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio bringing the world's attention to Brazil, this will motivate the government to take the right action. Just like Justice Louis Brandeis has been credited to have said, "Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants."
Our short discussion on this topic over dinner last night (which included linguiça, bolinho de carne seca com arroz, and carne seca), my wife did comment that the level of excitement was much lower than she's experience with past World Cups. That the streets, while adorn with Brazilian flags, are not as decorated as she expected. Maybe once the games get started, and memories of Brazil's successes in the World Cup warm-up during the 2013 Confederation Cup are rekindled, enthusiasm will be at expected levels in São Paulo and across the nation.
I'll keep you posted, especially as we travel to other host cities.
In the meantime, I think it's time to dip into the leftovers from last night's feast before my Seattle time zone meetings get started for the day.
UPDATE: Just finished watching this "funny as all hell" yet also sad commentary by the "funny as all hell" John Oliver and thought it somewhat apropos to this post: