Jul 3, 2014

Brazilians would be protesting against the Cup — but there’s soccer to watch

When Brazilians watch soccer, they are not individuals watching sport. They are a heaving, unified glorious mass with a single mind -- and who can protest when that sort of thing is going on? Crikey's man on the ground Django Merope Synge reports from Rio.

One year ago world football fans were watching in slack-jawed horror as 1 million Brazilians turned out to protest against hosting the 2014 World Cup — this World Cup. Surely in Brazil — the land where the average washing line boasts three, four or maybe even five football jerseys, because that’s just what most people wear most days of the week — surely in Brazil football was above politics.

But the protests were serious. The government had spent, wasted and in some cases quite blatantly stolen billions of dollars on this Cup while wages stagnated and systems of transport, health and education crumbled underfoot. So the protesters stood their ground against the Brazilian Policia Milìtar (a brutish mob even by world military police standards), displaying a courage that springs only from deeply held conviction. One million people: heads high, gazes stern, voices strong and steady. And when the protests finished, they swore they would return in 2014 to ocupa a Copa.

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