• Brazil, the World Cup, and Development: Connecting Soccer, Politics, and Economics

Game Day in Rio!

Flamengo 1, Audax 0,the final result after 90 minutes of soccer at the Estádio do Marcanã. Today the group got to watch Flamengo play, one of the most popular teams in all of Brazil and the favorite team of our favorite Brazilian professor, Pedro. The Flamengo fans are known for there fanaticism in Brazil and although the crowd of around 12,000 seemed small in a stadium capable of 78,000, the fans sang loud and proud all game. Being a soccer player, being at this game was beyond brilliant and something I have always wanted to do. I have been to games in the United States and I love it but it was an unbelievable experience to see a game in a country where soccer is the soul of the country. Not only did we get to see a game but we also got to see the game at the Estádio do Marcanã. This stadium was built in 1950 and hosted the World Cup Final in 1950 where Brazil actually lost, which was more than a travesty. Now with the World Cup coming back to Brazil, Estådio do Marcanã will again host the World Cup Final with the hopes that Brazil can redeem their 1950 lost and win the World Cup back at home. Just walking into the stadium and seeing the beautiful, flawless pitch and the blue and yellow seats made me speechless and than to add to that above the stadium in the background was Christ the Redeemer statue. It was a majestic view. Just knowing we were in the stadium that 6 months from now was going to be hosting the World Cup final was very surreal and just an unbelievable experience especially for a soccer nerd like me. 

 

Not all was perfect though. At one point at the end of the first half the Flamengo fans started chanting towards the club boxes where the Flamengo higher ups were sitting and in what we found out from our guide is that they were protesting the high ticket prices. Ticket prices used to be 25 Reais but with the World Cup around the corner the ticket prices have jumped to up to 60 Reais, which is a huge jump especially for fans who are from the lower middle class and below. The protests continued through half time where the fans got even closer to the club boxes and were showing their tickets and money to protest the raise in prices. While the protests were not directly against the World Cup, we again could see the affect it is having on all aspects of the country even to the soccer leagues in Brazil. Back in Brasilia, Professor Renno talked about the many different issues involving the World Cup including the inflation of prices, which he thought was the main cause of the protests during last summer’s Confederation Cup. We saw the protests first hand today and Grant discussed yesterday the street art we have seen that has said Anti-Copa and other murals that show the displeasure in what is happening with the World Cup. One mural Grant showed in the last blog discussed the need for more education and less corruption and from our readings we learned the struggles for education here in Brazil. Alfred Montero states that, “Only 35 percent of Brazil’s workforce has a high school education, compared with 52 percent in Mexico and 94 percent in the united Sates” (Montero 79). Montero also emphasizes that, “the average period of formal education still hovers around five years, which is one of the lowest figures among the large Latin American countries” (Montero 79).  As we can see education is a problem in Brazil and it is understandable why Brazilians are infuriated by the money being pumped into the World Cup instead of the many needs that it has such as education. I love soccer and the World Cup but by being here and seeing the many issues involved with the World Cup has definitely made me look at the World Cup with a different lens. In the past I have solely looked at it from a soccer lens but now I have been fortunate enough to look at it from a broader lens and see that the beautiful game is more than just a game.

 

Getting ready for the game!
Flamengo fans protesting ticket prices