A Few Tips to Make Brazil’s 2014 World Cup More than Just a Foreign Show

    Brazilian National Soccer Team

    Brazilian National Soccer TeamThe 2014 FIFA Soccer World Cup will not be our Cup. It will be the Cup of the tourists and some rich Brazilians. It will generate temporary jobs and leave behind some foreign currency. For the Brazilians, what will remain will be the pride of having been the site, especially if we win the championship and thus break with the unforgettable 1950 defeat.

    For the people who live in Brasília, what will remain will be the pride of having been the youngest city-venue of the tournament.

    We can make the FIFA Cup our Cup, however. All we need do is take measures to obtain permanent results for everyone.

    Every weekend thousands of Brasília residents play soccer in vacant lots. The majority of these lots are dusty public fields where spectators remain on their feet under the sun and rain. The FIFA Cup will leave nothing for those thousands of Brasília residents who certainly will not even attend the games.

    This can change if part of the resources anticipated for the Cup infrastructure preparations are utilized to improve the local vacant-lot fields. With a small percentage of the hundreds of millions that will be invested in the FIFA Cup, it will be possible to equip all the vacant-lot fields, leaving them without dust, with dressing rooms, lighting, bleachers.

    The Federal Senate Education, Culture and Sports Commission approved a project of law two weeks ago aimed at reserving part of the FIFA Cup spending for Brazilian amateur soccer. Now the proposal will go to other commissions. Its weaknesses can still be corrected.

    Independently of that project, nonetheless, the Government of the Federal District can reserve part of its investments to make the FIFA Cup our Cup also. The Cup can leave results for the residents of Brasília who, being neither national team players nor wealthy fans, will still be able to enjoy the benefits.

    During the weeks of the 2014 World Cup, thousands of tourists will be using our transportation services. It would be good if, besides the Light Rail Vehicle (VLT), which will be built between the airport and the Mané Garrincha Stadium – and we cannot let this name be changed, as is being proposed – the Brasília public transportation system would receive resources so that, after the FIFA cup, our population might also benefit.

    The tourists will be using our taxis. It will be good, for both them and us, if by 2014 the Brasília cab drivers (and the VLT and bus drivers) could learn foreign languages. This would convey a positive image of Brasília and leave a good result for the city. Once the FIFA Cup is over, that system would be an incentive for maintaining a tourist climate in Brasília, no longer as the Cup seat, but as the modern capital of Brazil.

    It will be a shame if Brasília hosts the Cup while suffering from a disgraceful problem, like dengue fever threatening tourists. The end of dengue fever and other contagious diseases can be a goal for receiving tourists, but one that will also leave permanent results.

    This would also assure that Brasília would be an alternative for cities incapable of taking care of their sanitary conditions before 2014. Investing in our poor public health network can guarantee good care for the tourists as well as for those who live here and would construct a permanent system that will improve our current conditions.

    Rio de Janeiro is now promoting the idea that the 2016 Olympics would be the world’s first green games by synchronizing the installations, services and landscape itself with the concept of ecological balance and sustainability. There is still time for Brasília to make this sort of effort by promoting lighting and transportation with solar and bio-diesel energy. There is also time for Brasília to enlarge our forest reserves to the maximum, especially those of the trees of the Cerrado. Beside the FIFA Cup, Brasília would show our ecological Cup.

    Even more than the aspects of sports, healthcare, infrastructure and ecology, Brasília needs to take care of its social conditions. We should be a territory free of illiteracy, without children who are working or out of school, all children studying in full-day sessions, students who know the geography and history of the World Cup competitor countries.

    Brasília will present a sad spectacle if, during the FIFA Cup, the world’s televisions should show children as street vendors at the entrances of the stadiums or in any of the other locations visited by tourists and journalists. Should they notice that the children were hidden away in disguised prisons, distant from the game venues and tourist destinations, it would be even worse.

    Our Cup must be not only the cup of the soccer fields, but also that of a people happy in the streets. Without that, our Cup will be merely the FIFA Cup, foreign and short-lived.

    Cristovam Buarque is a professor at the University of Brasília and a PDT senator for the Federal District. You can visit his website – www.cristovam.org.br – and write to him at cristovam@senado.gov.br.

    Translated from the Portuguese by Linda Jerome LinJerome@cs.com.

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