A tale of nine cities. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
Well two weeks, nine cities and ten football matches as well as visits to
some of Oscar Niemeyer's work, which I hope you liked.
Unfortunately I have to disagree with his quote from earlier, yes his
designs are pleasing on the eye, but they do not take away the people's
I have witnessed a number of scenarios that have made me think .... is this
part of Brazil's problem.
By now the world has heard of the protests in Brazil against the staging of
the World Cup, with government reform the wish of those protesting.
The reason this had been brought to our attention is that FIFA pay no taxes
in Brazil. Thinking about the revelations about companies outed In the UK,
and the fact that the majority either made a donation or agreed to change
the way they operate, why does FIFA not do the same. Are they a law unto
themselves? Because they will say that they are investing money in football
projects all over the world, which in encouraging people to be active and promotes healthier life styles?
Brazil was under military rule only 25 years ago. This is a relatively
short space of time in which it has been open to the world.
They need more openness to be able to change.
What change was brought about by the creation of Brasilia in the 1960's, yes
they created some wonderful science-fiction styled photo opportunities but
what has that done for the people?
Now FIFA have left their legacy with 12 magnificent stadiums, what will that
do for the people?
What use will they get out of the stadiums in Manaus, Brasilia and Cuiaba where there is no major team in the cities to use them.
Here are some of the examples, I hinted at:
On my bus on the way to Porto Alegre, the driver was giving his health and
safety talk when someone at the back put their hand up and said in English
"I can't understand" (No, it wasn't me). The driver immediately said "English, No."
He could have said "Desculpe."
I was on an escalator behind a local and I could sense he was confused. It
reached the top, he got off and froze. With me behind him trying to get off,
another Brazilian behind me saw what was happening, laughed and gave me a
sympathetic look. The point is that he was confused as to where he wanted to
go and in his panic simply froze, he didn't know what to do and didn't
think about anyone else.
One time I went to collect my bus ticket, the person behind the counter
struggled as the content of my email was in English. He told me he couldn't
help for this sole reason. I had been watching him on his computer and saw
that all he needed was my destination .... which was on the bit of paper in
English where it said Porto Alegre. I told him Porto Alegre, he said OK. He was
confused because he had been put into a situation he was not used to.
A number of times when buying food , I wouldn't know the name for something
and so would use the trusty finger to point out what I would like, when they
then bombarded me with a number of Portuguese questions and realised I
didn't understand they gave up. They didn't want to serve me. Yet I was
there with my money in their shop wanting to buy.
The point being that they are very uncomfortable with change.
The people want government reform and they are the only ones that can make
it happen. The people also have to change. The World Cup was a wonderful
opportunity to start this process, but I fear time has been wasted, but I
also hope lessons learnt.
Brzil is already a diverse country and one in which it is proud of the mixture
of races present and the opportunity it gives to everyone.
Juliana told me about her studies where she achieved 600 marks and didn't qualify
for the next year of her course, yet a friend who achieved 400 marks
did - because she was black.
This is part of a government policy to acknowledge the debt owed due to
enforced slavery. You can see both sides of the argument.
Now in what is a multicultural country which wants to better itself why
would you not encourage your best students.
The corruption hinted at in the 60's is still present today. Some have
told me that this is the Brazilian way, that nobody gets anything for free
that everyone wants their cut.
I don't accept that this is a Brazilian problem. Greed is the problem and
that is human nature and seen everywhere.
The person on the street is doing all they can to survive they are entitled
to look for their cut.
But those in power need to be properly regulated, and accept this, they are
already in a privileged position and should not be abusing it.
There is a lot of wealth in Brazil (remember the 2 year old on the remote
control car- BH) but this wealth is in the hands of far too few people.
One worry amongst some Brazilians is that they will win the World Cup, and
if that happens the government will tell the people everything is fine we
just had a wonderful party. As that is just what Brazilians do to forget
After Italy v Costa Rica a Brazilian man approached an Italian and asked
"Why do you look so sad?" She said "We lost". He replied "But you are in
Brazil, where are you going to dance and party tonight?"
On reflection, with all my mishaps this was probably the worst trip I have
ever had, but in true Brazilian style it was also the best, and of course I
have unfinished business just like all Brazilian projects.
Soundtrack, Isolation by Joy Division
Ross Clegg & Soccerphile.com