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

All for a Game

Hey, I’m back! After exploring the unique colonial history of the port town Recife, dying in the heat of Rio, and playing in the Amazon, this one-of-a-kind trip is actually coming to an end.. But if we were to end these 3 crazy weeks in the best way possible, we did just that earlier today.

After being teased at two of the World Cup stadiums we visited earlier in the month, our group was finally able to sneak in for some clutch access to an incredible stadium here in Manaus. The Arena Amazonia has been in the construction process for two years now and with just months to go before the games begin, it’s 90% complete. I suppose there are people somewhere sweating bullets and frantically running around in panic, but nobody we saw today looked too terribly worried about anything. Classic Brazilians.. Considering there are some stadiums that won’t even be completed by the time the World Cup rolls around, I’m sure that makes these guys a little calmer. So maybe like me, you’re wondering how they haven’t finished…It’s the freaking World Cup for crying out loud! Arena Amazonia in particular has had setbacks due to the climate here. Thunderstorms on thunderstorms can cause quite the delay, as it turns out.

The amount of utter chaos the World Cup has brought behind the scenes is appalling to many. Even Brazil’s assistant coach has commented on the embarrassment the entire process has brought to the nation. Throughout the month, the World Cup has popped up in numerous discussions and insinuated into others. For instance, in Brasilía we talked to Ricardo about the lack of necessary infrastructure as a whole. Even when thinking solely about the summer games, there is an entire host of problems that comes with creating the most efficient infrastructure that many overlook. Where will the fans stay? Will there be enough buses? Can the roads even handle the increase in numbers? These are vital questions that must be addressed to those organizing the games here in Brazil. However, regular citizens all over the country are asking a much different set of questions about topics like education and health. Does this mean the government is out of touch with the people? In one of the books we read for the class, Alfred Montero argued “the Brazilian state does not act in ‘public interest’…” (28). He believes the powerful private business-state networks are dominating the political and economic fields (29). For the most part, whenever we looked at issues surrounding the games there was disappointment towards the government. Even if one was glad that at least something was getting done, it was still frustrating to see the people’s wants and needs brushed aside.

Despite all the ridiculous hype and political chaos that the World Cup has stirred up here in Brazil, it found a way to melt and disappear the minute we entered the stadium and stood there in awe. The dome opening to the heavens and the fiery red, orange, and yellow seats surrounded a simple green pitch. One where the most talented soccer players in the world will get to do what they love. I had to take a minute to imagine the amount of passion stuffed into one arena which will occupy the space in June. All for a game.

It’s the little things, I guess.

Montero, A. P. (2005) Brazilian Politics: Reforming a Democratic State in a Changing World. Malden, MA: Polity Press. Print.

Our little hardhat family in Arena Amazonia. Four World Cup games will be played here, and one will be USA against Portugal!
Basking in all that is soccer