Friday, June 13, 2014

World Cup 2014: The Cup of All Cups

The Wold Cup, or the Cup of ALL Cups, as its called here in Brazil, starts today! So I figured I would start this post off with a bunch of anti-cup propoganda.

The streets of Brazil are starting to fill with green and yellow as people all over the place prepare for the World Cup. The Gringo presence here in Rio has skyrocketed and apparently they have brought some pretty annoying horns with them. Since there has been rampant protesting leading up to the Cup, I was surprised to find decorations and gringos popping up everywhere, even in the favelas. The kids in Cantagalo have been setting off what I assume are fireworks but what really sound like bombs for the last couple of hours. 

EVERYONE thinks they are a superhero and has decided to rock a flag cap through the streets of Rio. Even the Cuban boxing coach showed up to training this morning with two flags and a Brazilian jersey. He got into quite the discussion with a purple belt about the cup and then started training... there was a total of 4 of us there today. This World Cup is definitely going to mess with training. 

Left: decorations on the streets of Cantagalo. Right: from the side of a building. 

While there have been plenty of street artist expressing their anti-Copa sentiments via graffitti, John Oliver uses words to eloquently describe how FIFA is giving the Brazilian economy an bikini wax. 

Everyone here seems to be protesting, but why?

 Over 170,000 Brazilian citizens are being effected by the Cup and I'm not talking about the 35,000 volunteers that decided to willingly participate. I'm talking about the people who have been negatively impacted by the Cup, like the people who lost their houses due to stadium construction and other projects undertaken by FIFA. President Dilma has promised a "Cup of All Cups" and is using $11.5 billion dollars in order to pay for it. This is the most expensive World Cup to date. Now, I know what you must be thinking.... President Dilma must be one rich woman, but that's not actually the case, 80% of this monstrous FIFA bill is being covered by public funds.... that's $9.2 billion dollars that could have been put to hospitals, education, and transportation. Hospitals, in turn, took a $97 million dollar budget cut this year. 

But the government didn't just take money from the people, they lost money too. According to the rules of FIFA they don't have to pay taxes like everyone else in the world. So not only did the Brazilian government spend a massive amount of public funds, they also lost an estimated $475 million dollars. 

Get Hip: 

Now all of that being said, this did NOT stop me from throwing on a Brazilian jersey and going out to the beach to watch the opening game with everyone. I mean, they closed the gym on me anyways so I couldn't work out now could I? So I headed down to Copacabana beach to meet up with the Gringos from Connection Rio. At the beach one side of the road was closed and there were flocks of people decked in green and yellow swarming towards Leme (the end of Copacabana) where they had big screens set up for viewing the game outdoors.

On the fridges of the crowd there were endless groups of police. Lots and lots of police in all different shapes and sizes. There were bulky ones with padded chests and shoulders that looked like Robocop, there were scantily dressed ones marching in a squadron with clubs, angry ones packed into armored trucks driving slowly down the street, and stationary ones prepped with riot shields lingering on corners. According to one article I read, there are apparently also guys with rockets on roofs. And then you wonder why this Cup of Cups is turning out to be one of the most expensive ever...

Towards the end of the game protesters came marching down the street. I totally support the anti-cup movement but I was currently in the act of selling out with a few cold drinks at a French kiosk with my friends (not my Connection Rio friends because they were lost deep in the crowd). Did I mention I was on the beach?

All and all, the World Cup opening went smoothly and President Dilma could been seen screaming with excitement from her seats in Sao Paulo. While this may not have been the most desired outcome to use 9.2 billion tax dollars, Brazilians still used the victory as an excuse to have a drink and dance some samba. 

Bank Security strike against slavery

Because nothing says anti-slavery like a bunch of stickers on a bank 

Lots and LOTS of stickers!