Greatest show on turf
The greatest show on turf is ready for kick-off. Brazil is prepared on and off the pitch, declares its President, Dilma Rousseff, whose government has been under great strain to contain the sweeping criticism at home and abroad over the $11 billion spent to host the 32-team soccer World Cup.
Brazil is, however, so soccer-mad that all the pre-event social unrest is likely to vanish as the beautiful game takes over the public consciousness once the opening match starts Thursday evening Brazil time (Friday 1.30 am IST).
The world’s greatest talent has assembled for the World Cup after 64 years in Brazil and the world is wondering if the various jinxes of years past will be defied. Will a European team finally break the hoodoo and win in Latin America? No team would be considered better qualified than Spain, the defending champion, with its famous tiki-taka brand of soccer.
The global media tends to look at events outside the First World with a jaundiced eye, always stressing the faults. Traffic chaos is not confined to the developing world, especially when a world sporting event comes calling. Despite fears that the Metro workers may resume a crippling strike, the country is determined not to allow dissenters to disrupt the tournament.
All the negativity tends to melt away when the skills of soccer players are on show. This year’s event pits Spain, with a fine record in the last six years, against Latin American giants Brazil and its star Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, and Argentina with the extraordinarily talented Lionel Messi. Let the best team win.