By Jeff Kappen
Lack of direction upon college graduation led me to an unforgettable year teaching English in Brazil at the Federal University in Ouro Preto. This experience was the start of a lifelong relationship with Brazil through academic, personal and professional connections. As such, it was no surprise to anyone when I decided that I would be back for the Cup as soon as it was announced that Brazil would host.
I was able to attend two games, Algeria – Belgium and Holland – Spain, the latter featured the now famous Superman goal. The atmosphere in and around the stadium was incredible. Often the spectators were a third from each team that was playing and a final third made up of Brazilians and others, some of whose teams did not even qualify for the tournament. This combination yielded a veritable sea of competing chants, flags, languages and songs. Despite the tense nature of the competition, fans were often seen taking pictures together in opposing jerseys and sharing a pint in the fun zones that were created on the grounds surrounding each host venue.
As the tournament draws to a close, the dire predictions that Brazil would not be able to handle the logistics of the event are behind us. Overall, our experience was that the infrastructure largely held up, security was robust, and for most of the games getting to and from the event was smooth. The bigger question now is what will happen next. Brazil’s epic collapse versus the German squad has triggered much reflection among Brazilians, not only about the future of their team, but also the ways in which Brazil compares – and loses – to Germany in areas like education, health and innovation. There are those who hope that the patriotism that was evident during the tournament may influence the October general elections in which Brazilians will choose between the current regime, who many feel largely bungled the preparations and development potential of hosting the World Cup, and alternatives that could lead to less corrupt and more effective governance. Stay tuned for more on Brazil and the implications of the election for business as the time approaches!