Storytime! Talking Through My Views On The Football World Cup 2014.

This post was originally going to be just a Facebook status, but there's so much more to it I had to expand it. If you're looking for a brief, quick post about the World Cup then you've come to the wrong place I'm afraid. I'm normally all for keeping it simple but this is a topic that needs more depth, explanation and analysis.

So! The Football World Cup 2014!

Even if - like me on a regular day - you don't like football, the majority of the world knows when the Football World Cup comes around every four years. Whether that's on the radio, TV or updated Facebook and Twitter statuses. (For anyone who's new to my blog, hi, and I have been on my Year Abroad in Brazil for the best part of the last year). And while it's exciting being here amongst the hype, there is also a very serious side to the Cup that I want everyone to know about, because what is happening is wrong, and people overseas are being spun some very sugary sugar-coated, well disguised lies about the event. Over the past year I have come to realise just how strong an influence media can have on lives, good and bad, you hear what a certain group of people want you to hear (again, good and bad) and we (myself included) take that for truth. But the truth however is anything but and there is more than one side to the story!

I was going to just start with the Opening Ceremony, but in the end I actually managed to incorporate most of what I wanted to say anyway so: the Opening Ceremony of the Cup! After midday the whole country was on pause and everyone was buzzing for the first day of the Cup. We hit the local shopping mall for some last minute buys and there were people in green and yellow dashing to shops, filling buses and queuing frantically in traffic to get home for 4pm.
We got back late from shopping so I actually missed the ceremony and got to my neighbours apartment just as the players were warming up. I watched the whole thing back on Youtube with British English commentary and I was horrified. (I'll insert the clip I watched, keep scrolling down for my commentary). I couldn't believe what I was hearing from this man. Feel free to copy the link and analyse with me:

4:01 four minutes in and the commentator commits his first fatal error. As much as FIFA would like you to believe, the Sao Paulo stadium was not "completed just in time" and in fact stories went out in the local news here that morning that it was not finished and hadn't had any security checks before letting anyone in! My Facebook newsfeed was full of anti-Cup protest news! I even heard that some of this stadium had actually come down on spectators as they left after a game later on in the week! Not quite "safety first" after all...
7:34 "spectacular diversity! Especially between the rich and the poor these days." I. Am. Furious! This is SO ignorant! I don't care if he's on a script, since when was classism and a major divide between classes "spectacular", something to be admired?! That is the kind of attitude that kept Brazil colonialised for all that time! What utter bull****! I'm not even sorry beause this makes me so angry! This is not an opinion worthy of a member of the 21st century society. Brazil is supposed to be an emerging country (although there is much more to say about that) and yet classism is being encouraged outside which hinders people from becoming aware of the horrors people on the wrong end of this social class scale endure! Have you heard about the thousands of people who have been removed from their homes to make way for the stadiums?! "They'll find them new homes." No! They haven't and they won't!! It's too much effort for them, and it doesn't affect them personally so they see no reason to.
So many people from favelas (slums) have been kicked out of their homes to make way for the World Cup, for the billions of Reais that will be plugged into this farce, of which they will not benefit at all! They get nothing and are left with nothing! 
Yet we're paying thousands of pounds to fly out here, FIFA as a non-profit organisation have a billion dollars in their reserve, and Brazil has a huge expanse of land that could be built on instead. 
"Oh but Brazil has the fifth largest economy in the world, they'll get round to it. They can sort them out" Did you know that of this huge economy produced by Brazil less than 25% of the country actually sees any of that money? Did you know that not many more of that have rights to a half decent education so that they could even try to pick themselves up? And not even ten years ago about two thirds of the country were actually illiterate? 
Having lived here for nearly a year now I actually find it amusing when people claim that Brazil is not a racist country. Yes, they are more accepting of race than a lot of countries (probably including my own), but then why are students at the local university furiously protesting against racism on campus still? I've been reading about linguistic discrimination in preparation for my final exams of the semester. Sadly there have been studies of people admitting that there is still an undertone of racial prejudice (for example, a White man with a school education is still more likely to find work opportunities than a Black woman who is well read and gone through university). Again, there is so much I would like to go into but it's not entirely related to the topic (classic me!), but to sum up, I hate that people say these things - most probably - based on the romantic ideas they have of a country. I mean, Google thought it would be a good idea to put a picture of a favela (slum) on the home search page, so they're in the same boat and it caused quite some outrage. It would have been like them slapping a picture of a council estate on the home page during the 2012 Olympic Games. Not something any Brit really wants to see. So why is romantic elsewhere?
I actually can kind of see where Google was coming from though in that incident. When we see images of favelas from outside sources, they are depicted as colourful houses which we as Europeans associate with happy exciting homes. Plus, Latino artists like Don Omar and even British artists such as Calvin Harris have glamourised the concepts of favelas in their music videos so this is what the average foreigner will envisage when they see one. (The power of media!). Here however, painting your house is actually only done by those who have very little money because it's "all they can do" to show their homes off according to my neighbour.

  Back to the clip, the next section with the combination of the dances I thought was quite good actually, although there was a lack of Samba, Forró and Certenejo for which Brazil is quite well known today. This is very stereotypical of me now, but I think for a country that is well known for it's Samba and Carnival, there was not much to get hyped up about. Yes it's stereotypical, but it would have got the crowd, and people at home, pumped. And isn't an event like this when you show off these kind of things? Maybe we'll have to wait for the 2016 Olympics to find out... 
Going back to the routine, it got quite messy when everyone started doing the same thing though and I was confused as to what was going on. 
14:05 "These rather scary human ball figures." For once, we agree on something!
14:20  "63 boys and one girl from local football teams." Is this diversity spectacular too?
14:47 these performers with "footballs" on their heads look like they just stumbled out of a Daft Punk music video.
15:22 ok, now they're sort of bringing in Samba, getting the kids to do it while they kick the ball. But even so, this is more Brazilian than the flying ball head performers....!
15:56 Aaaaaand the eye formation is back again. It's like the Illuminati for real...
16:14 "...'order and progress'. Not always evident around the organisation of this tournament". Oo, I think he's on to something.
16:20 "I think Brazil have not yet embraced this World Cup... the rest of the world envisaged" Well it's difficult when you're being kicked out your home, and more money is being spent on football than on your family's well-being, health and education. When FIFA are stamping all over your laws for their own benefit, with no care for safety of game-goers. Did you hear about FIFA forcing Brazilian governments to make a by-law so that Budweiser (one of the sponsors) could be bought in the stadiums? Oh goody, more deaths to add to the World Cup polls.
16:36 Seriously?! I don't understand why you are dominating the screen right now.
16:51 Yep, completely missed something of actual importance with the demonstration of the machine that enables disabled people to take part in the national favourite sport.
17:30 Yay Batukada! But of course you cannot hear it because of the build up to the appearance of the final three performers: Pitbull, J-Lo and Claudinha.
17:35 Can anyone make out what Claudinha is saying?
18:03 The FIFA World Cup song by Pitbull begins to sync in. All hope is lost for me. I cannot like this song. It's catchy sure, but then so is Justin Bieber and Ke$ha. Doesn't mean that you enjoy listening to them though. And this song has made me angry from the beginning.
To begin with, the only Portuguese Pitbull can say is "obrigado" ("thank you") at the end of this song, and J-Lo can manage "forca" a few times. There is more Spanish in this song made for an event in a country that predominantly speaks Portuguese. It would not surprise me if this reason alone was why I've never heard it played the whole time I've been here. Even the music video is shoddy and rather embarassing. They look like they've stepped into an eighties documentary about Samba and football, J-Lo looks like she could be in LA/Miami/anywhere that's not Brazil, and the dancers themselves bless 'em aren't even in sync a couple of times! Both looking in completely different directions! Honestly? Poor effort overall.
Yet, I tuned into BBC Radio for the first time in three months at the beginning of June and the first thing that came on was this song! Greg James said that it was on repeat all over the country. Sad really, everywhere but the host country is excited.
Back to the ceremony:
18:45 LOL! Stage fail. J-Lo's face is brilliant. But at least Pitbull's being a gentleman about it in his statement tight fitting white trousers.
18:50 Well at least everyone's finally excited.
18:58 Yeah, I really have no idea what you're singing, dude.
19:35 Ok finally the formation looks pretty with the bird's eyeview of the performance.
19:48 Aaaaaand J-Lo sounds like a chipmunk. 
20:06 You have to give her some credit though for the energy she puts into her performance. I'd party with her at any other kind of event!
20:49 Samba nicely demonstrated by Claudinha, if ever so briefly.
20:57 She also sounds like a chipmunk though.
21:18 No Claudinha! No one else is doing that, you're fuelling the Brazilian stereotype, no!
21:39 Nawwww Claudinha's so happy to be there.
22:12 "A tournament this country is still torn about hosting". By jove I think he's got it! Massive understatement of the year however. On the days Brazil had a game, people were not obligated to work. One of my lecturers however, is so against football, FIFA and the whole idea of the World Cup that she kept working and told us all to be in class the morning of the World Cup opening, and has continued to do so for the last two weeks. She isn't paid, and it's extra effort for her, but she refuses to give into the bait. For that she has my utmost respect. But she is one of millions who feel exactly the same here. The whole country is unsettled thanks to the days off and the strikes wanting to happen while the world's eyes are on Brazil. Parts of my local university are still on strike after almost four months!
22:18 Pressure indeed. It's popular belief that there will be uproar whether the national team win or not! Football has cost this country dearly and I'm glad that I won't be here long after it finishes!

That's where the clip ends and if I'm quite honest, I thought the whole performance itself was pretty anti-climatic and not half as good as it could have been! I've seen local low-budget performances in Florianópolis way better than the one put on for the Cup. And what was with the weird dance formations?! It looked like the outline of the Big Brother eye on the Channel 4 adverts! Even watching from Youtube it didn't feel like the voices of the final three performers could quite reach out to everyone in the stadium. 
I would like to reiterate that I don't care if Pitbull was signed the official FIFA song, Brazil is a Portuguese speaking country! Do not confuse it with the rest of South America which yes, the majority (yes majority not all) speak Spanish.

Moving on from the Opening Ceremony, let's not forget that it became almost normal to hear that someone had died on the construction for these stadiums over the last year and a bit! But these 11 lives (and 11 families) are but a number to FIFA, just like those of the 2022 Cup in Qatar will be, where the situation is even worse! It's gross and disgusting to think that in this day and age, people have died for football. 
I'm not saying that I think football shouldn't exist, and obviously it's not the football itself that caused these deaths, but I'm completely with my lecturer on this one. So much time, money and space is plugged into football and I really don't understand why. Why is it that footballers get paid more in one day than the most do in one month? Why is it that teachers, doctors and the civil service must pay huge amounts for their education and qualifications, and then get paid the bare minimum for their actual work? But all footballers need is some stamina and well-trained technique with a ball in order to earn a fortune? Why is it that teachers, doctors and the civil service have to work long stressful hours to make anywhere near what a footballer makes from a day off? Why is it that these same doctors, teachers and the civil service are unrecognised for the life-changing efforts they make on our every day lives, but the scandalous behaviour of footballers are front page news?! Look at Suarez in the last game he played against Italy! He has bitten players and been a disrespectful twat on more than one occasion, yet he is an international hero and will still get a massive cheque equal to the amount of debt that I will have once I finish university once he's back in Uruguay!
Same as with the Cup now, the host country of this World Cup, regardless of whether the team wins or not, will come out of the other side worse off than they were before. Apart from 15 minutes of football glory and some media attention, what has the Cup really done for Brazil? Ok yes, it's shed light on the reality of this country's state for outsiders like myself. But all that's made me want to do is avoid coming back and tell everyone exactly what I've written in this (rather long) post! Brazil will not benefit in the way the government is hoping! However maybe it will make some protesters happy that some people realise the truth.

Unfortunately as a final point on this matter, I do sadly have to admit that I am still supporting Brazil in the Cup (until they lose) because there is a very awesome vibe that surrounds a Brazil game. Plus what are the odds that I will ever be in a host country for an international sporting event again? Although I never expected to go to Beijing Olympic Village and I did (two years later). Anyway!! But again, I'm pretty sure the Closing Ceremony will come around and I will be very much against football once more. Like I've explained to other people, the Opening Game 2014 was the first time I have ever really watched a football game, and I actually got quite bored after the second Brazil game. So I'm pretty sure I'll be fully behind everything I've written up to this last point by the time I fly home.

Anyway! I hope this has given you some things to think about, and I'm going to be putting together some clips from my World Cup experience in a couple of weeks, so stay tuned!! 

Beijos! Xxx