The World Cup was a joyous occasion for Team Brazil soccer fans… until they got royally owned by Germany and the Netherlands.
Now everyone’s talking about who won when they should be talking about those who lost everything.
Long before the tournament ended in heartbreak for Brazil, many poor locals were already suffering for soccer. The nation forcefully demolished more than 100,000 homes to make way for the World Cup and Olympics, forcing families that were already struggling to uproot and restart elsewhere.
“It’s a nightmare,” Dalvaneide Pequeno told the Associated Press. “There’s nothing here. No work, no hospitals, no public transport, nothing. They forced us out of our houses and dropped us here in the middle of nowhere.”
Families like hers were relocated as part of an “urban renewal” project to bring more athletes, fans and businesses into cleaned up slums. For example, Team Ghana’s World Cup home base was in Maceió, Brazil — the nation’s deadliest city with the fifth-highest murder rate in the world.
When developing or newly industrialized nations get the “honor” of hosting international events, it’s common for them to sweep their poor under the rug… and leave them there once the festivities are over.
Brazil spent around $4 billion building 12 stadiums for the World Cup. Although a couple will be reused in the 2016 Summer Olympics, there’s no long-term plan for the others.
But two French architects think they know what to do with the empty, expensive complexes: Turn them into affordable housing for those on the far left of Brazil’s economic equator.
The Casa Futebol project would install modular housing units between the stadiums’ concrete pylons.
At 1,100 square feet, each unit would be large enough for a family of four. They’d be built into preexisting spaces on the outside of each structure.
The central fields and inner seating would remain in occasional use, and a portion of ticket sales from soccer matches would finance the construction and maintenance of the colorful modules.
Sounds awesome, and a lot of people are calling it that, but I’ve got a few questions about the feasibility of this project.
First, can the stadiums withstand so much added weight?
Second, would the well-to-do Brazilians who’d be funding Casa Futebol pay to watch games where the poorest citizens live?
Lastly, since low-income housing sadly often comes with high crime rates, isn’t there a chance that these developments could become something like “the projects” in NYC?
While any idea to help people in need should be applauded for its intentions, tucking the poor away and stacking them like blocks may only widen economic divides.
Before any plan to alleviate poverty can fully work in Brazil (or anywhere), the nation’s upper and lower classes will have to change the way they view and treat each other — a task that’ll prove much harder than scoring against Germany and the Netherlands.
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