'Tourist shot dead on golf course'. 'Stadia will never be finished on time'. 'Political mayhem leading up to World Cup'. 'World Cup will be a failure, local population protests'. 'Street violence and lacking infrastructure'.
Category: Inside Insight
Published on Tuesday, 11 March 2014 21:49
These are not headlines pre-Brazil.
These, and worse, were the headlines prior to the first ever World Cup in an African country, in South Africa, four years ago.
Nobody – sorry, hardly anyone – believed the South Africans could actually host a World Cup. Which is obvious: only white people, preferably in the United Kingdom, can do that. Or, maybe Americans. How silly to think otherwise.
The mainstream media was full of doomsday stories about South Africa (as were the professional critics who achieved nothing by themselves but made sure that everybody knew how well they knew the "real story". Which turned out to be a real anti-climax. For them.) The tabloids issued warnings that visitors would be robbed blind, would face violence and horror, that the venues would never be ready and that, quite generally, the South African FIFA World Cup would end in chaos – or more likely, never even start.
The high priests of doom and gloom were wrong.
South Africa's World Cup was a huge success (OK, I hear you. The "white elephants", the waste of public money – all of that. I also hear that the "national self esteem" was uplifted though – how unexpected was that?) All of this despite the national team's failure to make it to the next round and despite the chilly temperatures in some locations. South Africa celebrated not only football but a love of life and some say, football did its part to unite people, in the end, and not cause violence, mayhem and terror as most false prophets had predicted.
And what about Brazil?
True: some stadia are still not ready. True: the monorail in Sao Paolo looks more like a piece of abstract art in some places where two tracks fail to meet in mid-air. True: some of the airports promise to offer a serious challenge to the masses of arriving and departing passengers. Also true: there is social unrest in many parts of the country.
In other words, a lot is still in flux in Brazil – less than 100 days before kick-off. But let us place a bet: by the time the first flights arrive, the country will be ready to host a memorable World Cup.
It is likely that some venues will not be up to scratch – but others will, and then some. It is possible (actually probable) that a Brit will get mugged while losing his mind in an alcohol-induced stupor – but wouldn't that happen to him virtually anywhere? It is likely that there will be more unrest in some parts of the country because it is simply too tempting not to protest before the world's tv cameras - and get the attention of people in Iceland and Nepal for issues that are serious but more likely to find an informed audience in Brazil...
It is altogether likely that some things will not work the way they should but it is equally likely that most things will. Despite a President who doesn't care about football, and despite the fact that some critics continue to speak of endemic corruption, literally everywhere (as if there was none in good old Europe, of course...)
But will any and all of this really have a devastating impact on the world's favourite game? It might – in the event that Brazil would be stopped by some minions half way down the road, say, after the group stages (although this appears to be rather unlikely, all things considered; declaring victory well before the Cup has even started is more of an English habit than a Brazilian approach).
So, what will happen?
Brazil will win the World Cup on home soil (if the Germans or the Belgians don't) and it will be a truly memorable four weeks of top tier football, loads of excitement and people of all backgrounds having a good time.
And if that doesn't happen – then my guess is as good as yours.