Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 14th 2014 Contents A28
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, July 14, 2014
After a month of football in a
country where the sport is regard-
ed a religion, we look at how the
World Cup has affected the volatile
political situation in Brazil and
what will happen now that the
tournament has come to an end.
The first World Cup to be hosted
in South America since 1962 has
faced many off the field problems
with mass protests over social
inequality and huge building delays
to stadia and other public infra-
However despite these major set-
backs, Brazil has managed to stage
a successful World Cup both on
and off the field.
Al Jazeera spoke to Claudio
Goncalves Couto, professor at Sao
Paulo s Getulio Vargas Foundation,
passionate football fan (a season
ticket holder at Sao Paulo s
Corinthians) and renowned com-
mentator on Brazilian politics.
David Poort---How did Brazil
perform as host of the 2014 World
Claudio Goncalves Couto---It
went well in terms of the organi-
sation. We had some minor prob-
lems, which is perfectly under-
standable if you organise such a
huge event. But overall it was a
good experience with great exposure
for most of the host cities. I do
believe that some of the host cities
were not smart choices.
For example, I don t think it was
a good idea to build a costly new
stadium in the city of Manaus that
will hardly be used in the future.
In fact, even the people of Manaus
see it as a stupidity to have such
a huge stadium in what is in fact
a small city.
DP---Halfway through the tour-
nament, FIFA s Sepp Blatter taunt-
ed Brazil s protesters by rhetori-
cally asking an audience in Rio de
Janeiro: "Where is Brazil s social
unrest?" How do you explain that
it was so quiet during the tourna-
CGC---A combination of factors
are at play here: We saw huge
protests in 2013 and in the begin-
ning of 2014 and many of these
protesters were simply fed up with
going to the streets so frequently.
Many mainstream protesters also
refused to be associated with violent
anarchists, such as the Black Blocks.
All they did is delegitimise the
protests movement, as many people
saw their tactics as inappropriate.
There was also an important
change in terms of the media cov-
erage of the World Cup. There was
a very different political and social
climate prevalent in Brazil after the
tournament started; pessimism
quickly turned into optimism. Not
only because of the initial results
of the national team, but because
of the event itself.
Ironically, the media that created
the general climate of pessimism
prior to the World Cup changed
their coverage as soon as the tour-
nament started, which resulted in
very optimistic mood. They showed
that the organisation was fine, how
visitors from abroad were loving
their stay in Brazil and how the
matches themselves were a party.
DP---Brazilian media predicted
that President Rousseff would get
booed if she shows herself at the
Maracana during the final. Should
she go to this match?
CGC---I don t know whether it s
wise for Dilma to go to Maracana
and be part of the final ceremony.
We have an expression in Brazil that
applies here: To fight a drunk per-
son. If you beat the drunk, people
will say you are a coward because
you beat someone who was too
drunk to defend himself. But if you
don t beat the drunk, people will
say: You re an idiot for letting a
drunk beat you.
So she doesn t have any good
choices in this regards. If she
doesn t go to the stadium, people
will say she s a coward and that
she s avoiding the people.
If she does go, she runs the risk
of being booed. I think, since this
is what could be expected of a chief
of state in an ordinary situation,
perhaps the best choice is to go and
receive the criticism of the people,
rather than not showing up and
receive criticism for not doing her
duty as chief of state.
DP---Do you think the World
Cup will help Rousseff's re-elec-
CGC---It might. Brazilians are
capable of not letting events on the
pitch cloud their political decisions.
There is no correlation between the
results of the national team and
people s voting behaviour in the
presidential elections or even in
They can be very happy with
their football team, but if they are
not happy with their government
they will vote them out.
I think the successful execution
of the tournament could help her
but it won t be crucial. Of course
she can try to capitalise on the
World Cup by saying: Everything
the opposition says about the gov-
ernment is excessive.
But what will be the decisive fac-
tor for her possible re-election is
the perception people will have
about their economic situation. If
people have a bad economic out-
look, winning the World Cup would
not even help her.
DP---Are you happy the World
Cup is almost over, and that the
whole FIFA circus will leave the
CGC---I have mixed feelings
about this. It was very nice to see
so many great games on TV, but it
also wasted a lot of my time.
It s almost like a diet: you know
you have to avoid it but you just
can t resist. I will miss the football
matches, but I know I have to get
back to work.
On the other hand I am really
nostalgic about the national cham-
pionship and I want to see the
matches of my own home team,
the Corinthians again.
The World Cup for me was like
a very good trip; it was a very good
experience, but it is also very nice
to go back home.
Can the World Cup leave a positive legacy?
Despite disappointing results, many Brazilians are proud of how their country organised the tournament.
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