The passion for soccer seems to be one of the few universal national traits in Brazil. Social, political and economical differences, so stark in the country's everyday life, become blurred when the green-yellow team steps on the field and sings the national anthem. Somehow, the Brazilian nation sees itself as whole only during the FIFA World Cup.
With these credentials, it makes perfect sense for Brazil once again to host a World Cup, this time in 2014. The enthusiasm and the spirit of initiative that soccer ignites in Brazil are powerful engines that Brazilian cities can count on to master the challenge of hosting a World Cup. Sanitation, transportation and even education problems, among others, can be tackled in new ways, with the help of broad participation that only the World Cup can bring to Brazil.
For Brazil, the World Cup of 2014 represents an opportunity to achieve a modernization leap and show the world not only its organizational capacities, but also its economic strength to attract investments and the many attractions that could transform the country into one of the main tourist destinations in the world in the near future.
The data from countries that hosted the FIFA World Cup in the past show that this event may not be the largest sporting event on the planet, but it certainly is the one with the greatest media appeal and the greatest capacity to generate resources for the areas involved, directly or indirectly, in its production. For any country in which it is held, this event works as a window to showcase to millions of viewers all over the world aspects that go far beyond stadiums and sports challenges.
In light of this opportunity, planning defined by clear goals and local needs cannot remain on the sidelines, or else the window we want to open to the world runs the risk of becoming a panel of thin glass that will reveal the problems of the country and discourage both the foreign tourists and the international investors we want to attract. For the event to yield a positive return, many challenges still have to be met, and the states and cities that will host the 2014 World Cup need to start their preparations in earnest.
What is at stake is not merely soccer or FIFA's trophy, but rather the opportunity for the country to attract billions and billions of dollars in investment for its development. What really matters is taking advantage of the World Cup to build the infrastructure that will be in place in 2022, the year in which Brazil will celebrate the Bicentennial of its independence.