On Saturday, the 2013 Confederations Cup will kick off at the Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha in Brasilia, as Brazil take on Japan in the opener of the meaningless much-anticipated eight-team tournament (see our instructional guide to caring about it here).
It's a precursor to the World Cup Finals that will be hosted in the South American country one year from now, and while excitement around the world grows for the upcoming football festivities, the majority of locals seem far less enthused.
There is growing unrest concerning ticket prices that few Brazilians can afford, and a fear that the costly infrastructure of the event will leave Brazil deeply in debt while FIFA pockets huge profits. "The World Cup contributes nothing to society. It's just for the elite," said a disgruntled fan recently interviewed in a revealing article by The Guardian.
The feeling of disaffection spilled out onto the streets on Friday, as around 200 protestors blocked roads and burned tires outside the stadium that will host the Confederations Cup opener this weekend.
The protest was organized by local groups complaining of excessive costs of the Confederations Cup and the 2014 World Cup.
Protester Edson da Silva said the demonstrators opposed ''all the money that was spent by the government'' for the World Cup. He said the protests will continue.
Firefighters and police were called to the scene, but the confrontation did not get out of hand and the road was cleared by the afternoon.
This clearly isn't the last protest of this nature we will see between now and next summer, but FIFA are said to have expressed "full confidence" that the Brazilian police will be able to cope with the potentially violent disorder in the streets that their money-hungry motives have created.
Civil unrest will not be helped by the fact that Brazil's politicians are also uniting against FIFA's prerogative to treat the tournament as a cash cow. Complaints by Brazil's sports minister Aldo Rebelo led to FIFA's decision to give 50,000 free tickets to poorer communities — but that's approximately 1.5% of the 3.3m tickets on sale and a small fraction of the 450,000 highly priced hospitality tickets on offer.
Former World Cup winner and Brazilian parliament member Romario has also expressed his concern:
"Fifa comes here and sets up a state within our state and it will leave with $2bn-$3bn in profits. And then what? What about the white elephants, the stadiums, costing nearly $2bn?"
Excellent question, Romario. When FIFA president Sepp Blatter — whose salary still remains a secret — has stopped counting the $1.4bn cash reserves his organization currently holds in Switzerland, he'll get back to you.
- Sports & Recreation