With billions spent on the biggest soccer tournament in Brazil, it is not just how the government is spending money that is fueling anger in Brazil. Many locals feel that they are bring squeezed out of a party that is happening on their doorstep. People from poor communities say they simply cannot afford to enjoy the world cup experience.
The Favelas have produced some of Brazil’s finest football talent, but now that the country is hosting the world cup – many in the Shantytowns feel excluded from the show. So they’re playing their own tournament – called the people’s cup, to protest the FIFA event.
“It’s clear that the World Cup is FIFA’s and not the people,” Rafaela says. “Those who have always watched world cups at home cannot afford to go to stadiums because of the exorbitant prices.”
For many in Brazil – the excitement about the world cup has faded – and given way to anger at exploding costs and those high-ticket prices.
“All of those taking part in this tournament are from the Favelas here in Rio. Their message is clear. They believe the world cup is an event for the rich, at the expense of the millions of poor people who live in shanty towns like this one.”
The Brazilian government has dismissed criticism of alleged mismanagement. But many question whether the billions the country is spending on the tournament might have been better invested in education, the health care system or public infrastructure.
One of those playing in the popular cup is Clayton Viera Soares. He’s a soldier and says he only supports the World Cup because it’s a job– he’s been put on guard duty at one of the stadiums.
“They do not care about the people, he says. All they care about is getting rich tourists over here to watch the World Cup.”
In a country with big inequalities, soccer has always been a unifying factor. But the World Cup has highlighted the social problems Brazil faces – says Caio Lima – one of the organizers of the people’s cup.
“This year, we are bringing together all the people who are affected by the world cup,” he says. “There are some people who were evicted from their land, homeless people and some fans who can’t afford tickets. We are bringing together those who are not going to the FIFA party.”
A party many in Brazil’s Favelas have been waiting for all their lives – and which most of them cannot afford to attend.
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