Brazil are the record World Cup winners, they’re playing at home and they’re the bookmakers’ favorites. Never mind Nostradamus, even Mystic Sally can probably envisage Thiago Silva hoisting aloft the Jules Rimet trophy next July. Despite lacking the panache of Brazilian sides of yesteryear, Luis Felipe Scolari’s men have enough quality, know-how and functionality to go all the way next summer.
In what should, on paper, at least, be one of the most open World Cup’s in decades, a strong case could also be made for the merits of Germany, Italy, Argentina, Chile, Belgium and, of course, holders Spain. But whilst all these nations contain several of the key components required to win a World Cup, only Brazil are likely to enjoy the support of football’s governing body – which is why the Seleção must be red-hot favorites to secure a 6th title next summer.
With soccer being a multi-billion dollar business, governed by a body that seems to be perpetually linked to corruption allegations, the game will always be a magnet for conspiracy theorists and should the host nation triumph next summer with the aid of a few questionable refereeing decisions along the way, expect the integrity of Sepp Blatter & co. to be called into question once again.
Although the decision to award the 2022 finals to Qatar may be the most spectacular own goal FIFA has ever scored, holding the 2014 version at the home of the ‘beautiful game’ is fast beginning to rival that farce. As the violent, country-wide demonstrations during last summer’s Confederations Cup displayed, the Brazilian people are none too pleased with their Government’s decision to divert billions of much-needed dollars away from vital areas such as healthcare and education and into the hosting of a tournament that’s synonymous with over-the-top extravagance and unbridled largesse.
That the tournament is projected to cost the Brazilian tax payer multiples of what they were first promised has angered them further and if that wasn’t enough, the fact that not a red cent of the profits from Brazil 2014 will make their way into the Brazilian exchequer has really sent them over the edge.
What began as minor civil disobedience over the raising of public bus fares quickly descended into vast, ugly protests last summer, enveloping every major town and city in a country not usually known for its rebellious spirit. Whilst the violent protests did subside and eventually dissipate with the conclusion of the Confederations Cup, any sanguine expectations the Brazilian Government had of a permanent cessation of public unrest have been well and truly quashed by a succession of public statements from protesters, promising that, just as the Confederations Cup acted as a warm up to next summer’s World Cup, so too was last June’s violence an Hors d’oeuvre for 2014’s main course.