By Carmen Glover
Soccer fans around the world can finally borrow a line from rapper Fabolous or country singer Faith Hill and “Breathe!” Yes, the beautiful game of soccer, known around the world as football, will be on full display today, as the tournament opens on June 12 in Brazil. The World Cup is expecting to attract significant attention since it is being hosted in the country which has won the most titles, five in all, making Brazil soccer’s home.
The Brazilian team, which is hoping to lead its country to its sixth World Cup, will play its opening game against Croatia at 4:00 p.m. in an unfinished stadium. The fame will be played amid protests from the Brazilian locals and controversy about corruption in FIFA and Qatar, the site for the 2018 World Cup. Despite the tumultuous period leading up to the World Cup opening day, FIFA President Sepp Blatter was re-elected to the top position this week, again proving that FIFA is its own fiefdom.
While discussions rage about the necessity for a revote in light of the corruption allegations about Qatar, Brazilian locals have been vocal and spirited in expressing their disgust with FIFA, the World Cup’s governing body, and the organizing committee in Brazil. Brazilians protested again on Tuesday, June 10 and Wednesday, June 11, even as teams were arriving for the World Cup, in a sign that protests will frame the backdrop of the games this year. Some teams, including the US national team, cancelled their practice matches due to concerns about congestion and safety.
The protestors have argued that instead of investing the more than $10 billion in preparing to host the World Cup, the focus should have been placed on crumbling infrastructure, poorly funded education, transportation and social sectors. Also, they have suggested that rampant improprieties took place with the World Cup funding, because the results suggest that massive theft of World Cups funds occurred, resulting in incomplete stadiums and tournament facilities while the funds promised to local Brazilian projects failed to materialize.
To say the protests and controversy is an inconvenience for FIFA and Brazil is an understatement. After all, Brazil possesses the most World Cup victories of any other nation, and is universally regarded as the country which pioneered the style of play that is often described as exuding finesse and beauty. For the residents of Brazil to organize years long protests is the last thing that FIFA, its president Sepp Blatter, the Brazilian organizing committee and soccer fans would expect.
Brazilian soccer icon Pele incurred the protestors’ wrath recently when he stated that the protests should have been staged in 2007 when the announcement was made that Brazil would host the World Cup, rather than in the months and days leading up to the tournament. Still, despite the protests and anger that now add to the World Cup flavor, the Brazilian team is expected to lead their country to the World Cup trophy so the players have danced a fine line between supporting the protestors’ right to protest, while seeking their support as the games get underway.
This is by no means an easy feat, as the eyes of the world are trained firmly on Brazil, now privy to all the problems that were not as publicized in the past.On Wednesday, one day before the World Cup, severe flooding left more than nine Brazilians dead, according to Good Morning America, further complicating the feverish attempts to salvage the pre-game preparations.
Meanwhile, there has been no shortage of intrigue from some of the other participating teams. Striker Landon Donovan was dropped from the US team by its coach, former German soccer star Jurgen Klinsmann, Rossi was dropped by Italy while Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, still recovering from a leg injury, has voiced his certainty that his team will prevail to win it all. Stay tuned to OnPointPress.net for coverage of the World Cup and the beautiful game of soccer.-OnPointPress.net.