World Cup’s Problems Spilling Over

Photo by Odd Andersen /AFP/Getty Images
Photo by Odd Andersen /AFP/Getty Images

The FIFA World Cup has been underway for several weeks now and the quarterfinals are just about to come to a close. Since Brazil was awarded with hosting the 2014 World Cup back in 2007 the country has been hard at work trying to accommodate the billions of dollars that are being spent on a facelift for FIFA. Perhaps you’ve heard about the sparkling stadium in Manaus, deep in the Amazon, that provides shelter for 44,500 fans for four Cup games or the efforts to “pacify” the favelas, the informal housing districts that surround the historic cores of cities, or how people have been protesting funds that are being taken away from education, health, and housing and being spent on the most expensive World Cup in history. Migrant workers venture out of their cities to build stadiums to serve the throngs of visitors for the month-long sporting event but have no use for the buildings themselves, as they serve a single purpose or make the cost of living prohibitively expensive. Brazilians love soccer but they don’t love what the World Cup has done to their country. John Oliver explains all of this brilliantly in this 13-minute clip.

Arrival City visits Jardim Angela, a favela in Sao Paulo with a notorious reputation, and listens to residents talk about how the favela‘s relationships with its residents and the larger level of governments change over the course of several decades. (A 2010 study says that roughly 11.4 million people live in favelas out of Brazil’s total poulation of 190 million or 6%). While tension ebbs and flows (mostly flows) between the residents and the police, favela culture has become a global export of Brazil and is starting to shape a different kind of image of the nation, but that will be saved for another post. In the meantime, while the world is still captivated by the football frenzy of the World Cup, it is important to listen to the stories of life before, during, and after FIFA comes to visit. It is difficult to share the millions of stories that are pouring out of Brazil right now, but we would be amiss if we didn’t acknowledge how these massive global events, privately funded and designed at the expense of those who will remain after the games, and how this is never a successful way to invest in housing, communities, and people.

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