‘Ordem e Progresso’ proudly states Brazil’s national flag but the current situation in Rio couldn’t be further from that mantra.
Little order. Even less progress. Just ask the hundreds of supporters who conveniently turned up outside the world’s TV broadcast area this afternoon on Copacabana Beach. As I write this, holed up in SBS TV’s relatively secure compound, the wail of police sirens are loud and clear. There has been much televised and written about the growing unhappiness of various groups with the way this government has carried out public spending. From allegations of corruption, to disgruntled teachers, the message seems to be a consistent one. “The World Cup is not going to happen” came the cry, roared passionately to the furious beat of drums and blaring whistles. For easier international media consumption, leaflets are not only printed in Portuguese, but in English. A representative, conversant in three languages, gladly hands them out to the gathering press. Lia Jorgao is one of them. An employee at the Ministry of Culture, she says the current march is essential. “The government promises so much but never delivers. They have promised to increase funding for education. We are tired of it,” she said.
It’s scenes like these, so close to the Cup, that FIFA and the Brazilian government have feared. But there’s no getting away from the fact public interest groups see the tournament not as a celebration of football, but as a bugle to voice their concerns to the world. Major protests are predicted on the opening day of the tournament this Thursday (Friday AEST) when hosts Brazil open the 64 game, four-week affair against Croatia. If today’s local demonstration is any indication, it seems Brazil’s famed “Jogo Bonito” – the beautiful game – won’t be making headlines. More likely, ugly headlines, little order and a lot less progress.