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Slaughter & Rees Report - Will Brazil Win from the World Cup?

June 16, 2014 --

At the time of penning this week’s missive, the 2014 FIFA World Cup host Brazil had just beaten Croatia 3-1 in the inaugural match. For the next month, billions around the world will tune into this quadrennial affair that stirs both passions and imaginations. Brazil has won the coveted cup a record five times, and they are the only team to have played in every tournament. Will Brazil win the World Cup yet again this year?

Fascinating though that question may be (here is the Goldman Sachs analysis), we want to ask a different question by adding the preposition “from”:  Will Brazil win from the World Cup? Think back to Oct. 30, 2007, when FIFA announced that Brazil would host this year’s tournament. Brazil was then widely seen as an economic powerhouse, legitimately one of the vanguard BRIC countries. Many voices proclaimed that hosting the World Cup would spur even stronger economic growth and dynamism—i.e., that Brazil would win from the World Cup.

Today many voices sound quite different. In the weeks leading up to the tournament, numerous strikes and protests beset Brazil amidst demands that the billions of dollars spent on tournament infrastructure be matched by similar investments to support the broader country. A sobering new survey by the Pew Research Center found that 72 percent of Brazilians report being “dissatisfied” with things in Brazil today; that 67 percent report thinking that Brazil’s current economic situation is “bad”; and that 61 percent agree with the statement that hosting the World Cup is a “bad thing because it takes money away from public services.”

Research has long shown that cities and/or countries that host major sporting events do not magically realize long-term economic gain (it famously took Montreal 30 years to pay off the debts it incurred from hosting the 1976 Summer Olympics). Brazil’s economic challenges are monumental, and its citizens rightly perceive them as far more pressing than the World Cup. Last week one of us co-authored an op-ed column in Project Syndicate on how Brazil might meet these challenges, a column drawing on a recent report on global connectivity one of us had done with the McKinsey Global Institute. You can read the op-ed column here, and/or peruse the report here. And, happy World Cup watching.

Articles © 2014 Matthew Slaughter and Matthew Rees. All rights reserved.
Publication © 2014 Trustees of Dartmouth College. All rights reserved.

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