Will this year’s World Cup in Brazil be a fantastic or a flawed event?

By Hilton Yip Source:Global Times Published: 2014-6-9 23:38:02

The World Cup will begin Thursday and most of the world will come to a standstill for one month.

OK, maybe that's a slight exaggeration but, for many, it will be an entire month of mankind's greatest sporting event. Loads of people will, depending on which time zone they live in, be calling in sick to stay home and watch the games or coming to work half-asleep ­because they stayed up late to watch.

There are several reasons why this year's World Cup should be a blast.

All the big nations will be there such as Germany, Spain, Argentina, Italy, the Netherlands, and of course Brazil. Regional powers like Mexico, Ghana, Nigeria and Japan made it too. Intriguing talented teams like Belgium and Colombia are back after long absences. Even the English have a team that has exciting potential due to some promising youngsters.

The world's two best players, talentwise, are both in their primes - Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo, at 29, and Argentina's Lionel Messi, 27, and both will be desperate for World Cup glory, the only success that has eluded them. Spain will look to win an unprecedented fourth consecutive international title, while Germany will press them hard, hoping to finally win a title after coming up close but short in the last two World Cups and Euros. Most of all, Brazil will be desperate to win a title on home soil, still haunted by its loss to Uruguay in the 1950 final, which was the last time it was held in Brazil.

It seems fitting the tournament is finally coming back to Brazil. England might have invented the sport but ­Brazil is the spiritual home. It is the ­country with the richest soccer history and ­culture and playing style.

Yet, hosting the World Cup has become a problem for many of its own citizens. Brazil has had frequent protests since last year over the tremendous spending on the tournament. Even up to press time, Rio de Janeiro is being racked by transit worker strikes for higher wages. Many Brazilians feel aggrieved that the over $11 billion spent has been wasted for the tournament instead of on social causes like health and education.

Given that several of the host stadiums aren't even completed yet and that promised infrastructural projects such as train lines failed to materialize, the protesters definitely have a point about the lack of transparency and usefulness of the spending.

Despite the romanticism of the World Cup and the supposed rise of Brazil as a developing power (I admit I had thought that it was a great choice as host), the hard reality might be that the country has far more serious issues it should have prioritized.

It's a sobering reminder that as great as the World Cup is, it's not all fun and games.

The author is an editor with the Global Times.

Posted in: Extra Time

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