Thursday June 12th marks the opening of the 2014 World Cup of soccer in Brazil. The world will be watching as Brazil kicks off the festivities against Croatia at 4:00PM EST. A massive influx of visitors to Brazil has put the country in the spotlight. Although many efforts have been put into making this year’s event a successful one, a transport strike, corruption, and unfinished venues have left many fans unsettled.
A well timed transport strike (for the employees, not soccer fans) has crippled Brazil’s already fragile transportation infrastructure. Workers began striking on Monday with promises to continue the strike for the duration of the event. If left unresolved, the issue with the striking subway workers will surely cause additional mayhem for the hundreds of thousands of soccer fans visiting Brazil. Police have stepped in but little has been accomplished towards easing the tension between the two sides. This has turned out to be the first of what may be numerous black eyes inflicted upon Brazil’s image on the world stage.
Corruption has already been a running theme before the World Cup even begins. With allusions to referees fixing matches in the 2010 World Cup in Africa highlighted in a recent article in the New York Times, corruption in Brazil has become a popular topic of conversation. Powerful gambling rings seek officials as targets for match fixing. FIFA has made it clear that they are doing everything in their power to deter matches from being fixed by focusing on teams and officials that are potentially susceptible to corruption.
Aside from corruption and the transport strike, World Cup organizers must deal with event venues that have not been finished with only a few days before the opening match. The 61,000 seat stadium in Sao Paolo is just one of 5 stadiums that still need to be completed. Whatever the condition the stadiums may be in, when it comes to game time, expect that the show will go on.
These incidents leading up to the 2014 World Cup are a side of Brazil that will be washed away once the competition starts. Once the whistle is blown on June 12th many of the headaches leading up to that point will be forgotten but the corruption and social backlash will be hidden behind the curtain of ‘the beautiful game’.