Share This Page

Brazil answered its World Cup critics off field

| Monday, July 14, 2014, 8:06 p.m.
Bundesregierung via Getty Images
In this handout photo provided by the German Government Press Office (BPA), President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff congratulates German President Joachim Gauck after the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Final match between Germany and Argentina at Maracana on July 13, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
REUTERS
Brazil's president Dilma Rousseff speaks during a news conference to present the balance of the 2014 World Cup in Brasilia on Monday, July 14, 2014. Rousseff said Brazil defeated pessimism about its ability to host the World Cup by staging one of the best tournaments ever.
Bundesregierung via Getty Images
In this handout photo provided by the German Government Press Office (BPA), German President Joachim Gauck celebrates after the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Final match between Germany and Argentina at Maracana on July 13, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

RIO DE JANEIRO — For Brazil, it was the upside-down World Cup.

Brazilians lost at what they were certain they would win — soccer — and won where so many expected failure — organization.

For years, the country's government has endured grueling criticism from FIFA over severely delayed stadiums. Leaders rode out a wave of protests last year over billions spent on the tournament despite poor public services. Foreign tabloids warned fans of man-eating snakes and violence.

Many serious doubts remain: about corruption related to World Cup works; whether the country will see economic benefits from hosting the games; and whether dozens of infrastructure projects promised as the biggest legacy of the event will ever be completed.

But there is no question that the goal of giving the world a smoothly run, exuberant sporting spectacle surpassed all expectations.

“I think it's been awesome,” said Scott Zapczysky, a 39-year-old jiu jitsu instructor from Michigan, as he took in the final match at the Fan Fest on Copacabana beach Sunday night. “I thought it was going to be an enormous disaster, to be honest. But it looks good. I think people are really happy.”

Brazilians would disagree with him on one point: They were crushed by their team's historic 7-1 loss in the semifinals, followed by a 3-0 drubbing in the consolation game.

Still, President Dilma Rousseff said the success of the Cup gives the country confidence in its ability to pull off its next mega-event, the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.

Brazil was helped by foreign fans arriving with a spirit of adventure. Nobody expected to see the sort of comforts or precise organization seen at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. And to be sure, there were problems.

Traffic jams plagued cities like Rio and Sao Paulo each time a match was played. Petty crimes such as pickpocketing and muggings were often a complaint.

But there were no mass protests like those witnessed during last year's Confederations Cup, the World Cup's warm-up soccer tournament.

Strikes by public transport workers and police that many feared would hurt the event were resolved in the days before the tournament began. The stadiums held up well despite some concerns about their structural safety.

What's left now is for Brazilians themselves to decide if the $13.5 billion spent in preparations was worth it.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.