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Brazil’s anti-FIFA protests, the dark side of the game

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With the World Cup kicking-off on June 12th, 2014 Brazil will be at the center of attention until the climactic finale in the legendary Maracana stadium.

Hotels are trying to accomodate large numbers of tourists, merchandise retailers are expecting record sales and bookmakers are competing for the best offer while many cry their despair in a country still struggling with deep-rooted social issues.

The anti-FIFA movement

In the land where football is king, anti-FIFA protests may seem odd. While deep love for the sport remains unquestioned,the governments decision to host a costly tournament is.

Presented as a tremendous opportunity for the Brazilian people by high ranking FIFA officials and government members alike, it is not perceived as such in a country where access to education and healthcare is still very uneven.

Growing discontent

A lot of the information relayed thus far has emphasized the aesthetics of anti-FIFA street art in Brazil. But the situation is not just playing out on the walls.

Railway strikers have taken Sao Paulo’s much needed railway tracks, and protesters regularly invade the streets only to be met by large contingents of military-looking police forces.

Tourists have already been warned by local officials, « if you are robbed, do not react ». A statement that says it all on the high tensions running in Brazil.

Can the crisis invade the pitch ?

Brazil will be playing under the pressure of high expectations from the locals. Yet, another type of pressure that footballers are perhaps less used to coping with is the growing hostility from a significant part of the population.

The political and social implications of hosting the tournament might create a particularly negative environment around the national team, even more than other teams present on Brazilian soil and referees.

Perhaps the most accurate indicator of repercutions of social crisis on the football pitch will materialize through bookmakers’ odds. A clear marker of the weight of the discontent could be Brazil’s odds of winning the competition exploding alongside anger in the streets.


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