With just a day left for football’s mega event to unfold in Brazil, many issues stand unresolved to the great consternation of FIFA and local organizers in the host country. As if the persistent issues were not enough, international singer Jennifer Lopez dropped a bombshell yesterday with the news that she would not be performing in the opening ceremony. JLo was earlier confirmed as the lead singer in the rendering of 2014 Brazil World Cup’s theme song Ole Ola in the opening ceremony this week. But in a sudden unfortunate development JLo has pulled out at the last minute without assigning any reason. In an enthusiastic build up to the World Cup, JLo had teamed up with the famous rapper Pitbull and Brazilian star Claudia Leitte in recording the World Cup official song, “We Are One (Ola Ola).”
Since the World Cup in England in 1966, it has become a tradition to create a unique World Cup theme song, which is recorded ahead of the event. This year this ritual was completed in April and since then the music album containing the theme song has been circulating around the world. No one has forgotten the charged up Shakira gyrating to the tunes of “Waka Waka” at the opening ceremony of the South Africa World Cup 2010. When the Brazil World Cup song was released, PitBull was overjoyed in making the statement that he was honored to be singing with Jennifer Lopez and Claudia Leitte at the opening event of the FIFA World Cup. But that was two months ago and with Lopez pulling out on unspecified grounds; Pitbull may have to chew his words. How the organizers will deal with such harsh reality now, is a million dollar question.
The JLo pulling out is not the only problems that the World Cup organizers are facing. In a country, which breathes and feeds on football, the 2014 World Cup is not being welcomed with gusto. And this is the most serious issue for the organizers. Brazilians are the only nation, which has won the World Cup five times to earn a national reference of Pentacampeoes and it was premised that the fans would take great pride in another victory for their country as this will be recorded at home soil. But going by the turn of some recent events, the excitement is clearly missing for reasons other than football. Many want to use the world’s largest soccer event in Brazil to express their disenchantment with the government’s inability to solve long-standing social ills facing the masses. As per one survey, more than 70% Brazilians are not excited about the hosting of world cup in their country. Brazilians are firm in their belief that $11 billion spent on the World Cup should have, otherwise helped in funding schools, housing, health care, transportation and other projects in place of building new stadiums and tourism infrastructure.
Brazil is one country that faces social issues like; large-scale crime, drug related mafia and violence. Media stories in the west can reduce the number of foreign travelers coming to Brazil for World Cup and embarrass the government, which had hoped to hoist Brazil in the eyes of the world at large. It is truly unfortunate for Brazil that even the national soccer pride cannot unite the chaotic country before the first kick-off takes place on June 12, 2014.
The discontent of one million protesters, who demonstrated on June 12, 2013 in 80 Brazilian cities continues to brew even now, though the government is making a hasty attempt to sweep many of its burning issues under the proverbial rug, ahead of the World Cup. A Rio de Janeiro placard displaying; “World Cup for Who?” was meant to tell the world that the event had been designed for tourists and not for Brazilians. The sentiments of the protesters was echoed by none other than Brazilian star footballer Neymar, who said he was “inspired” by the mass mobilization since it signified a focus on poor quality of Brazilian life while billions of dollars have been spent on the World Cup and the upcoming 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Neymar’s pronouncement caused lots of heartburns and the great Pele, who is the member of world cup organizing committee had to issue clarifications in an attempt to downplay Neymar’s sentiments. Pele said he agreed with Neymar but players have nothing to do with this or political corruption. Pele hoped that his countrymen would think above the national issues for a while and tell the world about Brazil being the best host in the world.