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Opinion

opinion | Eduardo de Oliveira

World Cup: Boston-area Brazilians sound a cautionary note

People stand in front of a metal structure that buckled on part of the Itaquerao Stadium, which will host the World Cup opener, in Sao Paulo, Brazil last year.

AP

People stand in front of a metal structure that buckled on part of the Itaquerao Stadium, which will host the World Cup opener, in Sao Paulo, Brazil last year.

Days before Brazil kicks off its World Cup, the game is already underway at local Portuguese-language radio stations. Boston’s large Brazilian community has been struggling with whether hosting a World Cup is a good thing or a waste of money.

Not long ago, a survey by the Datafolha Institute in Sao Paulo asked Brazilians about a series of World Cup-related street protests and about the country’s readiness as a host. Fifty-two percent said they supported the protests — down from 89 percent a year ago but still significant. Most staggering was the 76 percentwho said Brazil isn’t ready to host a World Cup. I brought the survey up on a recent broadcast on WLYN, and listeners echoed these mixed sentiments.

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Those who favor the soccer tournament cite reasons such as “the time to protest the World Cup has long passed.” Others are unpersuaded. “It’s shameful that we don’t have decent hospitals for our families but are spending billions of dollars to build new stadiums,” said one Brazilian woman, a housecleaner. An American listener called in. “I just came back from Brazil, and taking from Rio’s airport conditions, Brazil’s definitely not ready,” said Arthur Liebl in perfect Portuguese.

Brazil’s World Cup experience might be a warning to Bostonians eager to host the 2024 Olympics — that just having games in new stadiums might not satisfy the public. Then again, ask Brazilians who will win the World Cup, and disagreements end instantly: 75 percent of men and 83 percent of women agreed with the statement “Brazil, of course.”

Eduardo de Oliveira hosts Portuguese-language news shows on Boston-area radio stations WLYN and WSRO.
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