There has never been a sporting event embroiled in more controversies than the upcoming FIFA World Cup, yet fans aren't canceling plans to be part of the mega event in Brazil.
The situation on the streets of major Brazilian cities has deteriorated to the point that just last week, Brazilian sports minister Aldo Rebelo admitted there could be major security issues at the World Cup.
For a high ranking official of the host nation to admit such a thing is not just rare -- it's unprecedented. However, even without Rebelo's confession, enough stories have come out of Brazil in the past two years to convince even the bravest of fans to abandon their travel plans.
Only this time, no such thing is happening, and authorities still expect an influx of around half a million fans between now and July.
The media are baffled over the determination of fans, who are paying no heed to reports of violent clashes and mass protests in the region. But a look back at history will show that the media themselves are to blame for desensitizing the fans.
Before the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and the 2012 European Championships in Ukraine/Poland, large-scale propaganda was created against the host nations. Both the tournaments went ahead without any major controversy, leaving those who had canceled their plans based on inaccurate reports regretful of their decision.
The chief culprit in the case of Euro 2012 was a BBC Panorama documentary that depicted Ukraine and Poland as extremely racist and xenophobic countries, which turned out to be totally untrue.
The problems of Brazil, however, are of a different nature and possibly even more stark than portrayed. Check these out:
Take a look at this subway station in Sao Paolo which is so crowded on a normal day, it's no joke. Add the World Cup crowd to it, and it becomes a stampede waiting to happen.
The transportation infrastructure in Brazil is widely believed to be the worst in a country of its size and stature. It was also the fundamental cause of the protest.
If you think Brazil's anti-World Cup protests are nothing to be feared, you may not have seen the images down below. It has been reported that so far these protests have collectively drawn 2 million people on streets, with a maximum of 300,000 people present at one location at the same time.
Slums in Brazil are infested with drugs and criminals. Favela relocations to facilitate World Cup events have caused armed gang members to join in too. At times last month, Rio de Janeiro portrayed the picture of a battlefield, something which doesn't sit well from a tourism point of view.
General Street Crimes
Brazil has consistently occupied top positions in rankings of countries with the highest crime rate. Measures have been taken to curb the issue, but poor management on the authorities' part has caused more harm than good.
Thousands of police officers recently went on strike after their demands of a pay raise were turned down by the government. Muggings and other street crimes are already very common in Brazil, and without many police officers patrolling the streets, the cities could become a mugger's paradise.
Rumor has it that several other departments see World Cup as their moment to coerce the authorities into getting what they want. Hence, more of these strikes could happen as we get close to the finals.
In light of these facts, it may not be the wisest decision to travel to Brazil for the World Cup, because no joy is more precious than the joy of life.