Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughIs football more important than public services? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Is football more important than public services? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Is football more important than public services?

Although the protests in Brazil began as a response to a price rise in local transport, they escalated across the country and millions of people got involved to voice their anger at the decision to spend millions of pounds on hosting the Confederations Cup and preparing for next year’s World Cup. Talk of cancelling the competition was heard, although FIFA have said that it will definitely continue. Is it right that a sporting event should take precedence over public services such as education and health care and are the protesters justified in their actions?

The Confederations Cup has been a success so far and no-one can claim that the football has been boring or that teams aren’t really trying. From the first few minutes of the tournament, when Neymar put the host nation ahead with a wonderful strike against Japan, to the rip-roaring Italy versus Japan all-out-attack approach, fans across the world have been intrigued and captivated by the traditional pre-cursor to the greatest show on earth. Tahiti have won hearts with their sportsmanship and effort, despite losing all matches heavily, and they are delighted to be a part of the atmosphere and to compete with some of the world’s best players and teams. 

Exposure to Brazil has therefore dramatically increased in the last fortnight, although the signs were there right from the opening ceremony that not everything was quite right. When Dilma Rousseff began her speech to welcome the teams to the competition and thank the fans for their support, she was immediately met by a chorus of jeers and boos by the very people that she governs. The unpopular decision to increase the price of bus fares and other public transport had infuriated the general public and they were going to make sure that the Brazilian president knew just how ‘grateful’ they were for these changes.

However, what started out as small, isolated protests very quickly grew into organised marches across various cities, including 100,000 protesters joining a peaceful march in Rio de Janeiro. More than a million people took to the streets on Thursday, with isolated incidents of violence and looting reported. Several clashes with police occurred, but the majority were not looking for trouble and just wanted to show their support. 

A growing feeling that too much corruption is taking place in one of the world’s booming economies, combined with the fact that millions still live in absolute poverty, has ignited the passion inside people that normally accept that this is a way of life here. They feel obliged to come out en masse into the streets and complain about the amount of money that is being spent on refurbishing and building stadiums in preparation for a football tournament, albeit an extremely important one. Could the money be invested in hospitals and schools rather than arenas that will only be used several times before only a small percentage of the population receive any further benefit from them?

Whilst it is certainly true that an awful lot of money is being spent, the government is quick to point out that this investment is coming from private companies and investors, not tax payers. Infrastructure such as roads and airports are being developed in order to meet the huge increase in tourism that will occur next summer and these are aspects that will have benefit to all. Shops, hotels and restaurants should flourish and enjoy a huge increase on normal trading levels as a result of the tournament, so it is harsh to judge only the negative impact of stadium costs when assessing whether it is worthwhile for Brazil to host the event.

There is always uproar when any country wins the right to the World Cup, Olympics or other similarly important sporting occasions, due to the fact that sport is not deemed an essential requirement to the population of a country when put in direct comparison with education, health care and transport. London 2012 was criticised by many parts of the media and public for ‘wasting money’ in a time of economic difficulty, yet those same people were extremely quick to praise the wonderful atmosphere, fantastic entertainment and general success of it all just a few weeks later. You can’t expect to benefit from such an event without some expense and as long as other areas of government investment aren’t affected then I think that the Brazilian public will eventually see how great it is to welcome the football world to its shores.

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