What price sporting prestige?

What price sporting prestige?

It was perhaps fitting that the 2014 World Cup's first goal was scored by a Brazilian.

The Brazilian defender Marcelo Veira latched onto a cross drilled from the left and put it into an empty net - his own.

It was the football-mad country's first own goal in a World Cup match, leaving thousands of Brazilians at the Itaquerao stadium, where the opening game was played, red-faced.

It was also hugely symbolic.

Like the embarrassing own goal, Brazil's hosting of the world's most popular sporting event has been plagued by fiascos too.

The beautiful game has long been an opiate for the masses in the largest South American country. Retired Brazilian footballer Pele is revered almost as a saint and today the country's star striker Neymar da Silva Santos Junior is among the most recognisable football players on the planet. But instead of rejoicing at playing host, waves of anger have coloured the world event so far.

Protests and violence have erupted across the country, with teachers, transport workers and regular citizens joining in the strikes against the government for hosting the World Cup.

Reports of exorbitant spending on the new stadiums and the eviction of thousands of poor families to make way for new football facilities have dominated international media coverage of the event.

A survey by American research organisation Pew Research showed that six in 10 Brazilians think hosting the World Cup is bad for their country's economy.

They are right. In fact, economic studies have shown that, with a few exceptions, the hosting of a mega sporting event has resulted in losses rather than full pockets.

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