Brazil might not be the birthplace of football however for many it is the country where the sport grew into a fun-loving adult.
Now a year from hosting the sport’s crowning glory, many Brazilians feel angry that football’s World Cup is being treated like a spoiled gatecrasher at a party at the expense of basic public services, such as schools and hospitals.
The demonstrations all began with a protest over a rise in bus fares in Sao Paulo. The seven per cent increase proved to be the touchpaper for widespread anger and dissatisatisfaction with a government that has promised not to spend any of the public purse on hosting the World Cup.
In fact some 90 percent of public money has gone towards overall costs estimated to be around 11 billion euros, a figure that projected to continue upwards. That represents around 57 euros per person or a budget cut of 10.6 billion euros.
For its part, the government claims not of the cutbacks have affected key services such as health, housing and education for the most poor.
But Brazil’s burgeoning middle class, many of whom have recently come out of poverty, have felt the squeeze perhaps more than others.
The country’s weak service infrastructure means there are not enough hospitals and affordable medical care is at a premium along with a place for children in school.
The government is still fighting unemployment but the minimum wage is around 244 per month while the average salary is less than 500. Inflation is high and growth remains weak compared to emerging nations in Asia.
The government clearly must come up with a way to more evenly distribute the fruits of Brazil’s new found wealth. Until then, many will remain unconvinced over the benefits of hosting the world’s biggest sporting event.