THE BLOG

The 2014 World Cup and the Great Brazilian Promise

24/07/2014 16:23 BST | Updated 23/09/2014 10:59 BST

With the pleasant smell of the 2014 World Cup still lingering, barely a fortnight after it came to an end, football fans will debate on whether Germany were really an outstanding and unbeatable side. But it seems to be widely agreed that Germany were worthy winners of football's most sought after and ultimate prize. Questions will be asked, was this a great World Cup because attackers like Neymar, Muller and Rodriquez were so good? Or was it more that defenders like Luiz, Jagielka and Ramos were too bad? Is Messi now the undisputed greatest player of all time, coming out of the shadow of Diego Maradona? And is this now the dawn of the lesser nations, like Costa Rica, Colombia and Algeria? Regardless, these are football questions for the football crowd.

But many Brazilians, who have bigger concerns beyond football, have their own questions to ask and debates to have. They've already threatened to show their disapproval of the outlay in public money spent on the world's greatest tournament. A nation of 200 million people is going through a national and social meltdown and the masses aren't happy. We saw huge demonstrations and protests at last years Confederations Cup and in the months leading up to the World Cup itself. Football is a game most of us love. It offers moments of extreme joy and devastating lows. Being a football fan can be exhausting but at times invigorating. In a country like Brazil, it's not an exaggeration to say that football is a religion. It's what they grow up with; it's at the epicentre of being Brazilian.

But guess what's more important to the people of Brazil than sport? A health system that is functional and competent, an educational infrastructure that allows students a pathway to be educated and succeed in a career and a public transport system that means people can go about their daily lives at a convenient and affordable cost. Brazilians were promised winning the bid for the World Cup and Olympics wouldn't be at the financial detriment to the country. In fact, they were told the usual spiel about how it would actually benefit the country with the income both events would generate. But things haven't quite worked out as planned.

Brazil's projected budget for hosting the World Cup was just over £8 billion and £11 billion for the Olympics and that's without the public and private investment in the lead up to both. But the problem is that based on recent games, the World Cup generates around £2 billion with most going to FIFA and just under £3 billion from the Olympics, most of which goes to the IOC. Basic arithmetic shows that these games are running at a serious loss for the nations they visit. The Brazilian government claimed that the country would make up the difference with increased income from tourism and investment during events. But that clearly isn't happening. Then there's the dreaded/desired 'L' word: Legacy. The government's main hope of making a profit from these huge events is by playing the long game. Stadiums built will be used for decades ongoing, the transport system will bring in money and a nation of citizens who take up sport or at least indulge in some kind of fitness routine. This, they hope will mean a healthier nation equalling less money spent on a health service and in turn, improve the national economy. That's what they hope anyway.

The Organising Committees of the Olympic Games like to report that every city that has hosted the Olympics since 1984 has broken even, at worst. But the problem is that the OCOG budgets only refer to the operational costs, not the capital costs. Those capital costs (the stadiums, the Olympic Village, the media centre, infrastructure and more) represent the greatest expenses but are not included in the OCOG reports. For the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the total budget exceeded £23 billion. At the London 2012 Games the cost of hosting was initially projected to be £2 billion. It's now over £11 billion and counting.

Bringing it back to the recently passed World Cup, from the Brazilian's point of view, if you're aware of the huge sums of money being spent on it, the least you could've expected, the bare minimum you're entitled to, is that your country wins the damn thing. Not only did they not win the World Cup, the first they've hosted in 64 years, they went out in humiliating style. It's understandable that you wouldn't be excited about the next two years.

So the main question on the lips of the Brazilians now is, will the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games cripple their nation? Protests were kept to a minimum during the World Cup, but if there isn't tangible improvement very soon, the South Americans have shown they are prepared to cause havoc to get their message across. Talk of an economic boom over the 10 years that follow the Olympics won't be enough to appease the natives.