There was no Cup

This post is in ‘celebration’ of the World Cup 2014

There was no Cup

by Vladimir Safatle

World Cup 2014 Graffiti in Brazil

The idea seemed perfect. After 12 years of continuous initiatives to transfer income, which lifted 32 million Brazilians to the middle class, Brazil would be able to show the world its new picture. That would be the affirmation of the country in international grounds.

Showing an ecstatic Brazil, proud of itself, where contractors and workers sang the national anthem hand-in-hand and saw in each other partners in a new and splendid process of development. Advertisers would be willing to demonstrate overcoming effects between sips of Coke. Only smiles in the air.

This was the real purpose of the World Cup: to complete the political tale of national transformation seeking the attention of foreign eyes.

Well, the problem is that there was no Cup. There were games, a winner, stadiums in Brasília, Cuiabá and Manaus, but there was no Cup. Not only because a different picture of the country was portrayed: the picture of a nation stagnated in a period where development cannot effectively improve quality of life. A period where contractors dying during constructions is, in the words of Pelé, “something normal, it can happen”, almost as if it was a law of nature. In reality, there was no World Cup because the Brazilian people got out of place.

The people had a predefined role to fulfil. Its function was to celebrate and rave. With houses painted of yellow and green and, as the saying goes, with  ‘contagious joy’, the Brazilian people should embrace its new place in the world. However, something definitely got out of place. The huge military-police force put in place to stop the people from dancing out of the tune of happiness imposed and the governmental brutality against strikers, as can be seen again in São Paulo, everything is there to stop denial. No, the Brazilian people are not happy, as it feels like someone that had their passion used by others.

Signal of the times.

In the so called ‘Country of Football‘ for the first time a World Cup will not bring political dividends, but it will show a population aware of the attempt to exploit their dreams. A population that uprising may explode at any moment, in the most unexpected way possible, even if it is governed by people that have nothing left to offer besides the police.

Something changed deeply, however advertisers, strategists, and politicians did not notice. There is no big event that is able to hide the unrest of a population.

Therefore, nothing is more truthful than saying: there was no Cup. And who gained the most from that was Brazil.

Text from Vladimir Safatle published 10th of June 2014 at Folha de São Paulo:


Well, this shares my opinion about the World Cup 2014. I don’t believe Brazil will ever be ready, because things got out of place.

I hope my translation was not too dreadful. I did my best, but it has been a while. However I do think my ability to translate to English improved in the last few years.

Those that do go to the games, please pay attention on the people around you, and try to see if what the text pictures is true.

If you haven’t been to Brazil during a World Cup before, you should imagine that people paint the streets with fun graffiti, streets get decorated with the colour of the country, people everywhere paint their faces and dress up in yellow and green, every house gets a Brazilian flag on the window, streets get full of life with people singing “I am Brazilian with lots of pride and lots of love!”, and that the city stops when Brazil is playing with people retiring to the closest TV to watch the game, even if the closest TV is the one in the local bar.

Street decorated for World Cup 2010
Street decorated for World Cup 2010

I don’t believe this year will be like this. There will be some decoration and celebration, yes, but I think many protests can be expected, and there will be violent retaliation from the police. So if you do go, take a cheap camera so you can take many pictures and share your experience. Don’t take an expensive one, as it will probably be taken away or left in the hotel…

Just compare the streets from 2010 South Africa and the pictures shown at Google for this year’s cup.

World Cup 2014 Graffiti

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