FIFA 2014 AT BRAZIL: Bringing the World Together

Excited host Brazil has beaten Croatia in the first game.

Defending champion Spain was thrashed by Netherlands.

Last night’s excitement came from XXXX versus XXXX.

Today’s attraction would be the game of Germany versus Portugal.

Yes. The quadrennial global excitement and extravaganza began last week, yet again.

It will now enthrall and enchant the spectators on television – along with those in the stadiums of Brazil – raising the lovers of the game to some delirious emotional highs, and to some depressing psychological lows, depending on the teams they support.

The month-long madness for the fantastic game of football, in FIFA World Cup 2014, will be experienced by the largest ever television audience at an estimated 3 billion viewership.

The world comes together as ‘one’, to fight against ‘one another’ on the field.

And comraderie and sportsmanship will once again re-unite the world; At least for a month of fun; At least in the world of sport.

That is what I thought as I waited for the opening ceremony and the first match to start, on my television. And I must say I thoroughly enjoyed the two goals of Brazil’s star footballer Neymar.

But I cannot say the same for the opening ceremony.

Within an hour after the FIFA World Cup 2014 opening ceremony at Arena Corinthians stadium in Sao Paulo, the twitter world was abuzz with the raves and rants of disappointed viewers.

“Nike World Cup adverts were better than the actual World Cup,” said one tweet.

“Worst. Opening Ceremony. Ever” said another.

“For the billions that the World Cup costs to host, you would have thought that they could’ve at least sorted the sound”, said yet another tweet.

Some newspapers were angry. The commentators lamented, “Brazil is not just about football and beautiful people. It has rich culture, but the organisers failed to showcase the richness of the country in the stipulated 25 minutes, leaving millions of viewers disappointed”.

Neither the live performance of the FIFA World Cup 2014 theme song, “We Are One (Ole Ola)” by Pitbull, Jennifer Lopez and Claudia Leitte, nor the dangerously skimpy green outfit of the beautiful J-Lo could impress the viewers.

This song is a far cry from Shakira’s “Waka Waka” that was a huge hit, four years ago at FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa, as the theme song.

No wonder viewers were disappointed by the Opening Ceremony.

But the real anger was being shown for weeks by protesters inside Brazil who are against the government spending on this event.

When you consider the fact that Brazil is spending $11.65 billion on these games, your anger can be said to be well-founded. In comparison, South Africa had spent only around $4 billion in 2010.

The protestors, therefore, say that Brazil should not have gone overboard in FIFA World Cup spending. It should have spent on Public Health Care, and on Education.

But we must not forget that due to this event, Brazil gets the additional long-term benefits such as stronger infrastructure: better roads, efficient airports, quality hotels, and smoother public transportation.

Also, it could attract more tourists – even after this world cup event – and it could generate higher profits for local businesses.

So, while there are definitely costs on one side, the benefits should not be trivialized.

Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world, and this event can be a great boost to its economy. It is currently the seventh wealthiest economy, but it could go higher.

I believe, on a global perspective, this event is a great ‘morale booster’ for all of us, around the world.

With the world going through tragedies at varying levels, this game of football is definitely a welcome break to lift our spirits.

It also lifts the spirits of all national players of different countries who will make our pulses to race, and our adrenalin to rush, for the next two or three weeks.

They will kindle not just a national passion, but an international warmth, in our hearts.