As we approach the semi final stages of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil it is worth noting how the event has been received and viewed by the Brazilian public. Initially feared to be a central point for protesting against very aspects of governmental incompetence, corruption and the lack of real growth in society, it hasn´t materialised as such.
An excellent suggestion by the broadcaster Jo Soares, that the public sing the national anthem with gusto, but with their backs turned to the pitch has not been utilised. Indeed the forceful singing of the anthem has been one of the high points for the public in demonstrating their patriotism but one wonders if they are confusing a national patriotism for the well being of the country with the innate desire to be victorious on the football pitch.
The much vaunted protests have not materialised. This however, should not be interpreted to mean all is well with political, social and economic life here, rather that the public are choosing to allow themselves to be distracted by the entertainment of the spectacle. Indeed, the injury to star player Neymar and the injustice surrounding his exit from participating in the final stages has assumed the character of a soap opera with a large dose of exaggeration and pathos pervading the local media.
The quality of the football has varied and the early exit of big name teams and stars has added to the intrigue, Spain, Portugal, Italy and England all had enforced early vacations and we await the analysis of their debacles from their respective football associations with bated breath!
Of more fun here is the ongoing commentaries, jokes and belief that Brazil has “bought” the cup – with images of the President Dilma Rouseff paying off officials and referees pervading the social media. Initially considered ludicrous – but with a mediocre Brazilian team advancing to the semis – well, one just has to wonder out loud.
Either way, the Brazilian public has enjoyed the days off work and copious quantities of cold beer and meat for BBQ has already added to the countries collective waist line. Discussion around who should replace Neymar for the semi final dominates the back pages of the newspapers. But perhaps the comments of Felipão are more indicative of the countries mood – “Os jogadores tem que ter alegria nas pernas” – the players have to have happiness within their legs!!! The Brazilian people certainly have joy in their attitude to this great sporting event!!