If football is the world’s most beloved sport, there may not be a country that loves it more than Brazil. Not only has the massive South American country won the vaunted World Cup championship a record five times, but it has given us Pelé (whose name is synonymous with football), all-time leading World Cup scorer Ronaldo, and many more of the sport’s legends.
Yet protests have ravaged Brazil, site of the 2014 World Cup, as workers complain of deadly abuse, locals grumble about being crushed by rushed development, and much of the class-divided country mourns what could have been done with the money being spent on its favorite pastime. Even soccer heroes are speaking out against the overspending and the violence it has inspired.
As a midfielder, Pelé led Brazil to its first World Cup win in 1958. But even he is unhappy his country is spending more than $11 billion on the games, which begin June 12. “Some of this money could have been invested in schools, in hospitals,” he told reporters
just weeks before their opening.
Ronaldo voiced discontent less than two weeks out, saying, “I feel appalled. There is a disregard for the population. I think, primarily, serious planning was lacking for everything to have been delivered.”
Take a look at what’s upsetting Brazil’s football heroes—and the rest of the country.