Now living in Sao Paulo, people keep asking me about the World Cup, about protests and ultimately what legacy will be left after the tournament. To some degree it’s a question of waiting to find out, but the following post is one I wrote on my emerging sports opinion blog called Behind A Headline and I wanted to share it with you here due to it’s political nature..
Dilma Rousseff is severely risking over-using a phrase,
so desperate is she to convince the world that this World Cup-
that will kick-off in 5 months time- will be “a copa das copas” (“the cup of all cups”).
Indeed it is desperation that creeps from the corners of her mouth in any trying smile at the end of a public appearance or speech. It is desperation that is etched into the entangled furrows of her brow, produced from any agitating question fired her way from a journalist-asking about Brazils preparedness for the tournament this summer or the rhetorical and now generic; “Do you expect more protests like before?!”- saying ‘No’, will show her to be a fool and not aligned with the views of her public, saying “Yes” will show her to bea fool to not have done enough to deliver the wishes and needs of her public.
This is also set to be election year in Brazil and it comes to us at a pivotal moment too. Whatever the outcome of the worlds largest sporting event, come October attention here will turn to the election polls. With ailing public health services, a lack of good education and poor transportation systems, to name just a few, there’s a lot at stake. Equally and understandably, Dilma remains reluctant to make the brave economic decisions the country is in great need of to curb the faltering state accounts and to bring down the 6% inflation. Whether Neymar makes history or not, raising the flagging growth figures is a Brazilian goal this year (that were last week once more dropped my the central bank as they predict just 2.28 % growth- but we can expect that to fall again before too long).
Brazilians are a forgiving people. Should they succeed in lifting that trophy for the 6th time in their history this summer, much of the anger at the cost of the World Cup will be forgotten. The issues that plague media debate, Facebook timelines and most crucially Brazilian livelihoods will be swept away in the green, yellow and blue of the nations flag and celebrations- for some nights at least, Brazil will be in party mode; work canceled, children on mandatory holiday and bars kept open for the whole celebratory circuit.
It is then, when Dilma must strike. That is her moment to win the election, three months before they even take place…
Let me explain: World Cups create governments. In 1966 England won the World Cup – our first and (until now) only international trophy success. Harold Wilson‘s Labour Party were in power at the time and he only had to give one semi-rousing patriotic speech in the days that followed our victory for his and his party’s popularity to sore through the roof. Fast forward to the summer of 1970 and England were taking on West Germany in Mexico in the quarter finals of the same tournament that had taken place 4 years prior on English home soil. This year in Mexico, the English were considered far stronger, sharper and more qualified than when they had been when they won it previously, yet despite being 2-0 ahead, they lost the game 2-3 and flew home early and dejected. Four days later Britain held it’s general election. A week later the Conservative party moved into Number 10 Downing Street…
You see Harold Wilson was counting on another World Cup triumph as much as any England fan and when they slumped to such a painful defeat, the public turned bitter and seemingly let it out on politics. The Labour foreign secretary blamed the defeat on ” a mix of party complacency and the disgruntled Match of the Day millions”. I have little doubt that Dilma could face the same fate if a disgruntled Brazil turns on the poor state of affairs- should Filipao’s men fail to deliver the much coveted 6th Copa do Mundo to the expecting public.
But then again, he most likely will deliver it. It is somehow already written..
When Filipao (Felipe Scolari, Brazil’s coach and the man who carriers the hopes of millions), names his final squad at the end of March, a certain degree of the destiny of June’s fixtures will already have been decided and set in motion.