FIFA World Cup 2014 Opening: Scenes from Brazil

Brazilians welcome guests from all over the world amid ongoing protests
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  • Shop clerks dress a fashion mannequin
    Shop clerks dress a fashion mannequin to display Argentina's team equipment kit in a sports shop next to the World Cup stadium in Sao Paulo June 10, 2014. REUTERS
  • Workers place advertising posters of FIFA sponsors
    Workers place advertising posters of FIFA sponsors outside a metro station near the World Cup stadium in Sao Paulo June 10, 2014. REUTERS
  • A woman walks in front of Brazilian flags for sale
    A woman walks in front of Brazilian flags for sale on a street ahead of the 2014 World Cup in Salvador June 10, 2014. REUTERS
  • A boy manages a street store selling mainly  Brazil national soccer team jerseys
    A boy manages a street store selling mainly Brazil national soccer team jerseys ahead of the 2014 World Cup in Salvador June 10, 2014. REUTERS
  • A boy sits on a bench in front of posters with caricatures
    A boy sits on a bench in front of posters with caricatures of (L-R) President of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) Jose Maria Marin, former FIFA president Joao Havelange and current FIFA president Sepp Blatter, in Brasilia June 10, 2014. A cartoonist has pasted up posters throughout the city which critize personalities linked to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. REUTERS
  • Men sleep on the pavement
    Men sleep on the pavement in the middle of the day ahead of the 2014 World Cup in Rio de Janeiro, June 10, 2014. REUTERS
  • Tourists pose with a U.S. and Brazilian flag
    Tourists pose with a U.S. and Brazilian flag ahead of the 2014 World Cup in Rio de Janeiro, June 10, 2014. REUTERS
  • A woman walks past a shop selling World Cup souvenirs
    A woman walks past a shop selling World Cup souvenirs in a market in Rio de Janeiro June 10, 2014. REUTERS
  • Supporters from Colombia and Cameroon take photographs together
    Supporters from Colombia and Cameroon take photographs together with a replica of the World Cup while visiting Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro ahead of the 2014 World Cup, June 9, 2014. REUTERS
  • A supporter from Colombia has his picture taken with a replica of the World Cup
    A supporter from Colombia has his picture taken with a replica of the World Cup with Rio de Janeiro in the background from the top of Sugarloaf Mountain ahead of the 2014 World Cup, June 9, 2014. REUTERS
  • Brazilian police stand guard
    Brazilian police stand guard at an anti-FIFA World Cup demonstration march along Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro June 9, 2014. REUTERS
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The FIFA World Cup is finally here! Just days before the first whistle is blown, the excitement is reaching fever pitch all over the globe and even more so in the streets of Brazil. The people are breathing, eating and sleeping football all over the country may it be in a positive or negative way.

Contrasting scenes abound in the streets of Brazil in the days and hours leading up to the opening game. The national teams have arrived and so have many of the fans. Local and foreigners are walking around with hope enthusiasm and a sense of adventure written all over their faces.

The country's top tourist destinations such as the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro as well as Copacabana and Ipanema beaches are now teeming with people wearing various team colours and lugging their cameras and taking selfies or group photos all over the place. It is so far a PR dream for Brazil. Tourists looking for their first sip of a Caipirinha will be walking around taking photos and posting on social media and most importantly, bringing in much needed foreign currency which they will all leave in Brazil whether they parted willingly with their money or not.

The streets are covered in football-themed graffiti and souvenir shops have sprouted everywhere selling national team kits, national flags, world cup trophy replicas, trumpets, mugs, hats and any other form of knick knack that can be imagined. Local bars and restaurants offering local cuisine will enjoy the patronage of adventurous tourists while continental restaurants will offer comfort food the weary travellers will be looking for after a few days of upset stomachs and unfamiliar food.

Large sporting events are coveted for the benefits to be enjoyed. The World Cup hosts enjoy worldwide promotions, the commercial activity and the influx of money in general. Multi-national companies have already been funnelling advertising money into lining the streets and every available space in Brazil with their logos and ads. The other side of the spectrum lies on the large amount of investment needed to stage the event.

Brazil has a large population of over 200 million people of various ethnicities and socio-economic status. The business that the World Cup will bring in surely has benefits but many citizens are lying homeless in the streets. Indigenous groups and ordinary workers are taking to the streets to protest the $63 billion budget stating that the money should have been better spent for projects benefitting the local citizens. Brazil's President, Dilma Rousseff is quick to defend the move and said that the lasting effects and the infrastructure development is for Brazil not just for the World Cup alone.

Transport strikes continue to threaten to paralyze major cities where games will be taking place. The World Cup in Brazil hangs at a balance and it only remains to be seen if it will be a massive success or an embarrassing nightmare.  

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