Wulf Rössler: There is only one thing Brazilians love more than soccer

The photograph was taken in 2014 at the international airport in São Paulo – Guarulhos shortly after the World Cup in Brazil. There is something special in the relationship between Football and Brazil. The decision to hold the 2014 Football World Cup in Brazil was taken long before, at the beginning of the 2000s. That was a time, when the economy was booming in Brazil, but as the World Cup approached, the economic and financial problems had increased enormously and there was much protest against the huge expenditure for the construction of new stadiums plus the inevitable additional infrastructure. This was quite atypical for Brazil, as football had played an identity-building role for Brazilian society for many years. Brazil had won the world championship four times in total, but in the 1950 final at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, they surprisingly lost to Uruguay.

This defeat had been perceived as a national trauma for many years. The goalkeeper of the lost final fell into a severe depression that lasted until the end of his life. In 2014, the Brazilians were then quite unexpectedly eliminated by Germany 7-1, a defeat that the Brazilians found humiliating. So what does the image tell us now, because photographic images do not lie, or do they? The picture shows a peaceful, multicultural Brazil that is obviously looking forward to welcoming the world to the Football World Cup. But in fact the preparations for the World Cup were marked by social unrest and Brazil stood not unanimously behind the World Cup.

Many Brazilians felt, that it was inappropriate to build expensive stadiums, where schools and social facilities were lacking everywhere. Perhaps the highlight of the wastefulness seemed to be the construction of the football stadium in Manaus in the Brazilian rainforest. There it was clear from the outset, that this stadium would never be adequately used, partly because Manaus does not even have a team in the top Brazilian football league, but also because of the hot weather in Manaus, which turns a football match into a torture.

The stadium in Manaus became a symbol of state insufficiency and political corruption. Thus, not winning the World Cup in 2014 came not totally unexpected. There are some social psychologists, who support the theory that a country’s performance at a Football World Cup says more about the poor state of a country than about the quality of the football team itself. “There is only one thing Brazilians love more than soccer: People – Welcome in Brazil” This is how this photograph became a sad witness of a wish that was not fulfilled.

 

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