While sports are hugely popular in Brazil, not everybody is in favour of the huge amount of money being invested into new stadiums and infrastructure for the games when there are huge problems with poverty and a lack of funding for education and healthcare. The Brazilian people have been told that the country will prosper because of the economic benefits that these events bring and that eventually everyone should benefit. However, some people have not bought that line. “... [P]eople have the illusion that they will profit from the World Cup events, but the truth is that they will be brutally suppressed,” said Roberto Morales of the Socialism and Liberty Party, who have been very vocal in their opposition to the huge public spending on these events. In February of this year, thousands of armed troops were sent to Rio’s slums to round up criminals and regain control of turf from the powerful criminal underworld of the city. We saw similar things in the lead-up to the 2008 Beijing games, where thousands of poor and powerless citizens were forcibly relocated by authorities to make way for games facilities and then unfairly compensated or just ignored.
Speaking recently from an Olympic Committee meeting in Sydney about the state of play in Brazil at the moment, IOC Vice President John Coates called out their progress ahead of the 2016 Rio games as “the worst” he had ever seen, stating “they are critically behind schedule,” citing the complex political relationship between various authorities as a major factor in the delays.
The World Cup is only a few weeks away, so let’s continue with the teams in Group G.
GermanyUEFA – Union of European Football Associations
Population: 80 million
Nickname: Die Mannschaft!! – The Team
FIFA World Ranking: 2nd
Qualified: Undefeated in Euro Group C
Fun Fact: Only once failed to get out of their group ... back in 1938.
History: Have finished in the top three in their last three World Cups and their last two European Championships.
Key Players Eenie meenie miney moe … Their entire squad is made up of big-name players from the world’s best clubs, though German clubs Dortmund and Bayern Munich do supply the majority of the squad.
Prediction: Should easily top this group and I think they can go all the way to the final.
PortugalUEFA – Union of European Football Associations
Population: 11 million
Nickname: Os Navegadores – The Navigators
FIFA World Ranking: 3rd
Qualified: Beat Sweden in last chance play-off
Fun Fact: Held in 1995, the SkyDome Cup was a three-team tourney against Denmark and Canada. Portugal won and this remains their only tournament “win” at senior level.
History: Often criticised for under-performing on the World Cup stage, with a third place in 1966 their best result.
Key Players: Record goal-scorer Cristiano Ronaldo is the captain of this one-man team.
Prediction: On paper they should go through, but Ghana and USA won’t just roll over.
GhanaCAF - Confederation of African Football
Population: 24 million
Nickname: Black Stars
FIFA World Ranking: 38th
Qualified: Beat Egypt 7 - 3 in play-off.
Fun Fact: Were denied a historic place in the 2010 semi-finals owing to Luis Suarez’s handball in their quarter-final against Uruguay.
History: Good record in the African Cup and this is the Black Stars’ third appearance. African teams are always well supported by neutral fans.
Key Players: The experienced duo of Asamoah Gyan and Sulley Muntari have played in big matches for big clubs.
Prediction: Could really spring a surprise on the more fancied teams.
United StatesCONCACAF - Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football
Population: 318 million
Currency: US Dollar
Capital: Washington D.C.
Nickname: The Stars and Stripes
FIFA World Ranking: 13th
Qualified: Winner of CONCACAF group
Fun Fact: Top-scoring cry-baby Landon Donovan could also become their most capped player if they reach the final.
History: USA have not failed to qualify since 1990 and had their best finish with a quarter-final against Germany in 2002.
Key Players: Head coach Jürgen Klinsmann, who was a World Cup winner with Germany, has been key to the team’s recent run of good results in qualifying.
Prediction: The “too-tough-to-call” game against Ghana will be crucial if they are to advance.