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Romario Joins Anti-World Cup Protests

Over the weekend, Soccer-Laduma International enjoyed chatting to a group of ten young Brazilians, who are in Cape Town to learn English, volunteer at NGOs and work as interns in various industries.

Naturally we asked them about the Confederations Cup currently underway in their homeland, and their thoughts about next year’s World Cup which will also take place there.

All of the bright young Brazilians agreed: they absolutely love ‘joga bonito’, it’s in their blood.

But they identify with and support the protests currently raging around the Confed Cup, and they all would have preferred Brazil not to host the two major tournaments, and to spend the billions lavished in new and refurbished stadia on Brazil’s social and economic development instead.

That sentiment has cast a pall over Brazil, during what was supposed to be a celebration in the spiritual home of the beautiful game.

Similar concerns were raised before the last World Cup, but in the event, South Africa was happy to revel in its moment in the sun, despite pressing socio-economic concerns of its own.

The sense is however, that Brazil’s unexpected antipathy towards the World Cup will not just go away, as the gap between the rich and the poor in South America’s most populous nation continues to grow more evident by the day.

Among the hundreds of thousands of Brazilians who have taken to the streets to protest against the hosting of the Confed and World Cups is former Selecao superstar, Romario.

In his capacity as congressman for the Brazilian Socialist party, the outspoken former striker has voiced his opinion in a piece published by The Guardian.

He explains how, in the face of Brazil’s underdeveloped health and education sectors, he has changed his mind about the appropriateness of his country’s hosting of the World Cup.

“When Brazil won the bid to host the World Cup, other politicians were in charge of the country, and our political reality was different. I supported the bid because it promised to generate employment and income, promote tourism and strengthen the country's image,” he explained.

“Since then, Brazil has been affected by the turbulence in the world economy just like any other country.

“In many cities, conditions in schools are deplorable.

“Brazil's public health situation is worrying, too. 

“Meanwhile, Fifa has announced that it will make a R$4bn profit from Brazil's World Cup, tax-free.

“Only Fifa is profiting, and this is one more good reason to go to the streets and protest.

“I never thought the World Cup would solve all of our problems, but now my fear is that this mega event will only deepen the problems we already have.”

By: Jared Chaitowitz 

Follow Jared on Twitter: @JaredSLinter

Judging by South Africa’s experience of hosting the last World Cup, and the legacy left (or not left) by that competition, do you think Romario is right to oppose Brazil’s hosting of the World Cup?

Click here to take our poll on this issue.

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