Calling the Shots: Protests in Brazil overshadow 2014 World Cup



Protestors voice their opinions over spending on the 2014 World Cup. More than 2,000 people were in attendance at this protest which took place in Sao Palo, Brazil’s largest city. Brazil will face Croatia on June 12 to kick off the 2014 World Cup.

Eric Fishbin, Sports Editor

After a four-year wait, the World Cup will kick off in Brazil on June 12.  This will be the 20th World Cup.

Ever since the groups were drawn in December, United States fans have not had much to look forward to, especially after they drew the ever-feared “group of death” along with second seeded Germany and fourth seeded Portugal.  Rounding out Group G is Ghana.

Despite an exciting lineup for the 2014 World Cup, an eerie shadow has been cast over the tournament.  Many distractions came up that have taken a toll on the sport.   With soccer’s popularity finally starting to rise in the United States, these hindrances are untimely.

Throughout the World Cup’s history, the fixing of matches by referees has been evident.  This is mainly due to bribes from gamblers who are seeking to profit from the games.  In particular, a FIFA investigation of the 2010 World Cup has exposed several possibly fixed matches.

With this new information released just a few weeks before this year’s World Cup, many fans, journalists, and players have been preoccupied and unfocused on the actual games that are just around the corner.

Other obstructions to the World Cup have been the recent protests by Brazilian citizens.

Although hosting the World Cup is considered an honor, it is financially very taxing.  Many people view the building of new stadiums as an extreme excess, compared to using already existing stadiums for the matches.

On June 4, approximately 10,000 Brazilians took part in a march that closed one of Sao Paulo’s main highways.  The protestors were marching in demand of greater government spending on health, education, and transportation.

Another strike, this time by Sao Paulo transit workers, started on June 5, and it is currently still going on.  On the first day of the strike, it was reported that around 3.5 million people were stranded in the city.

This is expected to continue to impact the World Cup attendance as  both overground and underground transportation workers are currently on strike.

In the United States, one obstacle that fans and some players have had to get over is the cutting of Landon Donovan from the World Cup roster.  The 32-year-old player, currently playing in the MLS for the Los Angeles Galaxy, is the all-time leader in goals and assists for the national team and has been with the team for the past three World Cups.

Within a week of being cut, Donovan broke the all-time MLS record for goals scored.

When the U.S. head coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, selected the final 23-man squad and Donovan was left off, chaos broke loose.  Twitter exploded, and analysts worked overtime to find out why the superstar was cut.

Now, some fans who have been following the team for years know that Klinsmann and Donovan never exactly gotten along.  Klinsmann even said  of him in an interview with ESPN that “the media thinks he’s  untouchable.”  However, goaltender Tim Howard, a notable member of the national team, said, “If he’s on the field, he’s our top one or two player.”

One possible source of the clash between the player and manager is Donovan’s departure from the team back in 2013 during the World Cup Qualifiers.  Donovan left the team to take a break from soccer.

Without Donovan on the Cup team for the first time in 16 years, the United States will try to win over the group of death.  Its first game is against Ghana on June 16.

Many consider this match to be a “must win” for the Stars and Stripes.  Despite a lack of experience, the United States will attempt to advance past the group stage. To do so will not be an easy feat.  The U.S. will likely have to halt the powerful play of Cristiano Ronaldo, whom some consider to be the world’s top player, steal a point from Germany, and get a win against the team that knocked off the U.S. last year, Ghana, in order to advance.

So far, an exciting tournament seems to be shaping up. The World Cup ends with the final on July 13 in Rio de Janeiro.

Expect to see a showdown between the host nation, Brazil, and Germany in this year’s final.  Also look to see Germany reclaim the soccer throne for its first time since the 1990 World Cup, with a winning score of 3-2.

Happy World Cup!