Published On: Thu, Jun 12th, 2014

The eyes of the World are on Brazil, as the World Cup starts Today

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The World Cup is the planet’s biggest sporting event, held every four years and lasting a month in the middle of the summer, it is played in rotation across the continents. The last one, in 2010, was held in South Africa, while the next one is set for Russia.

The competition brings work and just about everything else to a standstill in many places, as fans gather in cafes, pubs, offices and homes to cheer on their countries. And it is a colossal economic and marketing event that draws not only global sports brands like Adidas and Nike, but almost every other type of sponsor as well, from Coca Cola, Pepsi or Hyundai cars to BMW or Ralph Lauren’s Polo cologne.

“The World Cup is the largest, most connected global sporting event. Worldwide, it has more interest on Google Search than the Superbowl, the Olympics, and the Tour de France combined. If you’re looking to reach an audience of sports fans – from the crazed to the casual – the opportunity doesn’t get any bigger.

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro

What makes the Cup so interesting to soccer fans is that while the top players are often highly successful on their club teams, that doesn’t always translate into a similar accomplishment at the national level, and vice versa. Cristiano Ronaldo was considered the best player in the world this past season in Spain’s La Liga while playing for Real Madrid. But the Portugal team he will lead into the World Cup does not have the same supporting cast around him as Real, which boasts 11 of the very best players in the world at their positions.

Questions arise

Will Lionel Messi show the form for his native Argentina that he does week in and week out for FC Barcelona in Spain? Will Uruguay’s Luis Suarez bite an opposing player, as he did in the English Premier League, earning himself a 10-game ban?

Speaking of England, will a nation’s heart be broken again as the national team goes out on penalties yet again? And will coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s controversial move to drop Landon Donovan from the American team prove a colossal mistake?

These are just some of the questions fans of the beautiful game – also known as football throughout much of the world and soccer in the United States – are asking as the quadrennial celebration of the sport known as the World Cup starts today, Thursday June 12th, 2014 in Brazil.

Brazil National Team

Brazil National Team

Anti-World Cup protests spread and intensify
Protests against the 2014 World Cup have been erupting throughout Brazil for one year now. Nearly 50 cities have organized street marches justa few days before the soccer tournament kicks off today June 12.

While these demonstrations were not comparable to the ones that shook the country’s main cities in June 2013, anger was still running high.

The anti-tournament sentiment adds to general unrest in Brazil over government corruption and widespread demand for more public investment in healthcare, education and public transport.

Brazilian authorities have also come under fire for what is being described as their poor organization of the event.

Almost all the 12 stadiums that were built or remodeled cost more than anticipated, and many of the promised urban mobility projects such as airport renovation and transport networks have either been scrapped or delayed.

The poor planning and runaway spending that has fueled protests in Latin America’s biggest economy may tarnish the country’s international image, said Mauricio Morgado, marketing professor at Fundacao Getulio Vargas.

There is a big chance this becomes a shot in the foot,” he said by telephone from Sao Paulo. “It was an excellent idea from a branding point of view but we may not have the expected positive effects.

The reputation of Brazil has ´obviously´ been damaged with the World Cup preparations”, Rio mayor Eduardo Paes told reporters in Rio on June 7. “We are not communicating well, there is a problem of mistrust in Brazil at the moment on our capability of delivering things.”

Protestors set barricades on fire in Sao Paolo

Protestors set barricades on fire in Sao Paolo, Brazil

Subway train operators and activists clash with police during a metro strike June 6 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, ahead of World Cup transit preparations.
But this time around, two of the biggest questions of all don’t even involve the game: Is Brazil really ready for the World Cup Kick Off, and is the Cup itself tainted by recent allegations of bribery in the selection of Qatar to host the competition in 2022?

Strikes all over the place

I seems like the soccer World Cup will start amid strikes involving airport employees in Rio de Janeiro and bus drivers in Natal, although metro workers in Sao Paulo decided not to resume their job action.

The union representing metro employees in Brazil’s largest metropolis provisionally suspended their five-day strike on Monday and decided against resuming it on Thursday.

That means soccer fans will be able to use that passenger railway service to reach Arena Corinthians, where the tournament’s opening match between Brazil and Croatia will be played.

The metro is the main means of transportation to the stadium and authorities estimate it will be used by some 50,000 people with tickets for today’s evening match”, city authorities said.

Rio de Janeiro Galeão International Airport

Rio de Janeiro Galeão International Airport

Sources:
http://www.usnews.com/
http://elpais.com/
http://www.bloomberg.com/

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