Editorial, by Stone Korshak
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – There are two big questions everyone in Rio is asking right now. The first is, will public unrest and general protests kick off during the World Cup and overwhelm or at least disrupt the FIFA World Cup? Then the other is who will win the World Cup?
In 2010 during the last World Cup we had already launched The Rio Times but I was traveling in New York doing some consulting work and had missed the spectacle. I heard it was amazing energy on the streets here, and I have been consistently chastised for missing it. Apparently every four years it is the same festive spirit, after all Brazil has won more World Cup titles than any other country, football (soccer) is in the blood here.
Yet just weeks away from the 2014 World Cup several Carioca friends have commented how much more subdued the spirit on the street is this year, even though Brazil is hosting the thing! People note how few Brazil flags are flying, and decorations that would usually be up are still not adorning shop windows and such.
A Carioca friend explained how she is torn, on one side she wants to show her frustration with the irresponsible spending, incompetence and corruption between the government and FIFA. On the other she wants to root for Brazil and also show all the foreign travelers that Brazil is a great country and a wonderful place to visit.
That last part amazes me, the warmth and pride of many Brazilians still wanting to open their arms and show visitors how incredible Brazil is. Even while most are struggling to keep ahead of spiraling inflation and tough times. Brazil and Rio have such friendly people in general, few would argue with that.
Personally I can’t predict what will happen, the protests last year took me by surprise. Not that I was surprised that the public would buck the burden of government folly, but I just didn’t see it getting sparked by such a small straw, and bring millions took to the street in a matter of days.
The amount of strike action (bus drivers, bank security, teachers, museums and police) across the country here, in all sectors, does not set a pretty stage for the government or FIFA. National army troops have already been deployed and more will come to keep the streets and stadiums clear. There are already over seven thousand in Rio alone.
So how will all these rabble-rousers compare to the football fanatics? So far the football fans have been quiet. It was surprising to me to see protesters direct their anger, chants and placards at the Seleção (national Brazil team) this past week, that could really effect their play and performance in the Cup.
The other big question, who will win the 2014 FIFA World Cup (besides the obvious FIFA and some government officials laughing their way to the bank)? We asked our senior sports reporter Robbie Blakeley the same question and he was hesitant to put his money down.
For me it’s easy, as an American knowing very little about international football-soccer, I’m going with team USA all the way baby! Yet if that million-to-one bet doesn’t pay off, then of course I’m going with the only team I can name any of the players – BBBRRAAASSSSIIILLLL!
As far as betting on the protests … that one I’ll keep out of.