Brazil aim to silence echoes of the past
Friday, 13th June 2014 at 12:18pm
From the sun-soaked coastal regions that boast beautiful bays, reefs and islands - to the Amazonian rainforests, or the urban jungle with its sprawling cities; Brazil is a land of contrasts.
A fact that has never been more apparent than it is now, as the FIFA World Cup begins.
Brazil has had a long love affair with the game of football, which is credited as first being properly introduced to this exotic land back in 1894 by Charles Miller.
Miller was the son of a Scottish engineer who lived in Sao Paulo. On his return from schooling in England, where he had become particularly enamoured by the sport, he brought back a couple of footballs and a set of rules from the Hampshire FA and set about forming a football club.
Fast forward to today. From those humble beginnings, we now see a nation that has afforded us some of the most iconic figures and moments in world football. Winning has never been enough for the Brazilians. Winning with style and flair has become almost a prerequisite.
If we look through some of the players that Brazil has given us and we see names like Pele, Garrincha, Jairzinho, Socrates, Zico, Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho. Too many to mention. Players blessed with incredible skill and flair.
In full flow, the famous yellow shirts are a sight to behold. Various generations of football fans become misty-eyed when thinking back to the all-conquering 1970 side or to the graceful 1982 side that fell short against the pragmatic Italians.
Back in 1996, England hosted the UEFA Euro '96 tournament. It was described as football "coming home." England was, after all, the land that created the first written rules and leagues. However, there can be no doubt that Brazil is thought of as the spiritual home of the "beautiful game."
And yet, despite the obvious anticipation that this fiesta of football fuels, contrasts remain.
The build up to Brazil 2014 has been a little fractured and images of beach football, tanned bodies and carnival atmospheres have been tempered by large protests against the amount of money being spent on hosting FIFA's four-yearly jamboree.
Local governments have racked up large debts, spending heavily on building stadia and transport infrastructure for the tournament, while social services appear to be neglected; tragic deaths have occurred on stadium construction sites, with some stadia still appearing to be unfinished as the kick-off approaches. FIFA itself has been at the centre of a corruption allegation storm which has caused tournament sponsors such as Coca-Cola to ask questions of the sport's governing body, as reported in the Guardian.
Once the white line is crossed and the whistle blows, though, you can expect all of Brazil-and the world-to unite. Even if just for 90 minutes.
The colour and atmosphere ought to be amazing and despite the protests, sales have been brisk. Just last week the Wall Street Journal reported that 90% of 180,000 tickets put on sale sold out in one morning, although there are still tickets available, click here to find out more.
It is often the case that large sporting tournaments need the host country to do well, to help the party continue. Brazil are favourites to triumph, but the last time the tournament was held in the Brazil was 1950 and all did not end well. Despite numerous successes since, the scars from their defeat to Uruguay back then have still not completely faded.
This year, with the mercurial frontman Neymar to lead them, Brazil will be hoping to finally silence the echoes of the past.