In the lead-up to the World Cup and through the first games, Brazilians have taken to the streets in protest. In this post for Daniel Altman on ForeignPolicy.com, I look at why these demands for change could help Brazil overcome its many domestic problems. The post begins:
World Cup controversies in Brazil are supposed to be about team selection and tactics, but this year they’ve focused on much bigger issues: jobs, poverty, public services, and corruption. Past tournaments have been a boon for governments hoping to distract their people—and the world—from exactly these kinds of issues. Could this one be different?
Major sporting events in Latin America have a history of both illuminating and eliding larger homegrown problems. The 1968 Olympics in Mexico City was preceded by massive protests and the ignominious slaughter of hundreds of students in the capital’s downtown, revealing the ugly authoritarian side of the Institutional Revolutionary Party’s (PRI) regime. And the 1994 World Cup hadn’t even finished when Andrés Escobar, having scored an own goal in a match against the United States during Colombia’s brief campaign, was murdered upon his return to Medellín, then the world’s cocaine capital.