The Legacy Effects of the World Cup in Brazil

From the time Brazil won its bid to host the FIFA World Cup in 2007 to the tournament?s opening match today, the country experienced several drastic changes. When Brazil won its bid, the country was in the midst of an unprecedented economic boom and the privilege of hosting the world?s most anticipated sports tournament was reflective of how far Brazil had come.

However, a downturn in the economy beginning around 2011 and a general perception of large-scale misspending and corruption surrounding the event generated much publicized discontent among Brazilians.

What remains to be seen is how Brazil will move forward after the party is over. The impact of the World Cup on Brazil?s business and national and regional political environments are significant and these legacy effects will remain relevant to the country?s future long after the trophy is lifted in Rio de Janeiro.

Here are our 11 key legacy effects the World Cup will have on Brazil:

1. International relationship building

With Brazil playing host to the world, the Brazilian government and other organizations are leveraging the opportunity to improve relations and create new, beneficial relationships abroad. APEX, Brazil?s export promotion arm, is set to host 2,300 investors and influential leaders to conduct business during the tournament. Even US Vice President Joe Biden is set to make an appearance in an attempt to ease tensions after allegations surfaced of US spying on Brazilian oil company, Petrobras.

2. A lost opportunity to change global perception

Critics of the country?s management of its World Cup preparations abound. Even FIFA?s President harshly once remarked that Brazil?s World Cup preparations were ?the worst I have seen?. Brazil has always been considered a ?country of the future?, but it still continues to be perceived that way. The World Cup was supposed to be a landmark opportunity for the country to shed that image once and for all. Instead, major delays (and unfortunate accident-related deaths) in stadium construction and other mismanaged infrastructure projects have led to many ?told ya so? remarks.

3. An awakening society

During the Confederations Cup last June, the country saw wide-scale protests crop up for the first time in recent history. Emboldened by social media crowdsourcing and with over a million Brazilians taking to the streets, the protests were?and continue to be?overwhelmingly peaceful and effective. Brazilian society has awakened to its problems and is increasingly willing to demand immediate and lasting changes.

4. Rise in tourism

The World Cup itself is projected to see 3.6 million tourists spend roughly US$ 8.73 billion in the country. As billions of viewers tune into the World Cup in what may become the most-viewed event ever, the country?s lure of Samba, beautiful beaches, and a guaranteed non-stop Carnival-esque atmosphere is sure to attract millions of tourists in the years to come that otherwise might not have visited Brazil.

5. Continued corruption

Corruption continues to deeply affect the public and private sectors in the country and many feel that the World Cup was no exception. Around 41% of World Cup projects have not been completed, which is surprising given the huge amount of money spent on preparations. Total spending for the month-long event is expected to reach over US$ 11 billion. To put that figure in perspective, South Africa spent relatively much less at around US$ 3.5 billion for their World Cup just four years ago.

6. Impact on the presidential election

While we think much of the commentary about the World Cup's impact on the presidential election in October is overblown, it will come into play. Historically, there has been no correlation between Brazil?s World Cup success and subsequent election results for the presidential incumbent. However, the near US$ 3.6 billion spent by the Federal Government and allegations of corruption will certainly not go unmentioned this October.

7. Telecommunications infrastructure

Telecommunications investment totaling US$ 180 million will provide 4G Mobile Network service across the 12 cities that are hosting the World Cup. For a country with 286 million mobile phone users (5th most in the world), extended network service will have huge ramifications for consumers and businesses alike well beyond the tournament.

8. Security investment

Major Brazilian cities continue to expand with little to no urban planning. As these poor communities spread with no access to healthcare, education, and public transportation, violence and gang activity tend to prevail. However, after security investments of around US $850 million for the World Cup, Brazil?s various security forces have been forced to coordinate their activities in preparation for protests and all of the dangers that present a potential threat for major sporting events. The Brazilian police, armed forces, and intelligence will be increasingly effective at mitigating violence throughout the country and should be better suited to ensure the safety of the nation in the years to come. Repeated cases of police brutality, however, will have to be addressed.

9. Airport infrastructure

Major airport construction totaling US$ 2.8 billion is an important step in improving Brazil?s transportation infrastructure. Although many of the airport projects will go unfinished before the World Cup, they will be completed eventually. Increased airport capacity and improved logistics will be warmly welcomed in a country with some of the most expensive (and slowest!) ground transport in the world.

10. White elephants

The term ?white elephants? was commonly used to describe the World Cup stadiums in South Africa that, today, go largely unused. Yet despite Brazil's failure to design and build multi-purpose real estate and leisure facilities in and around stadiums, thereby ensuring regular ongoing use, Brazil is the nation of futebol. It has well established teams and leagues that will make regular use of the stadiums (with the notable exception of Manaus), even if they never quite fill to World Cup capacity.

11. A maturing democracy

We must remember that Brazil has a relatively young democracy with the dictatorship era ending only in 1985. Virtually 30 years later, Brazil has progressed a great deal in establishing and consolidating its political system. Perhaps the greatest strides in terms of effecting change have come in the past year. Both the international spotlight of hosting the World Cup and the rise of a politically powerful middle class has truly awoken the country?and the world?to its problems. Wide-scale protests, fueled largely by discontent over public spending, have continued today. And especially in an election year, the government is becoming increasingly obliged to answer society?s demands.

Ian Herbison