By Fred Kaweesi in Sao Paulo
When Brazil won the rights to host the 2014 World Cup, there was divided opinion among the locals.
Some welcomed and tossed to the development while another section of Brazilians didn’t see sense in hosting the sporting event.
Those that didn’t make sense of the entire project chose to demonstrate on the streets of all 12 hosts venues.
Some of the locals found it ridiculous as to why government would choose to spend billions of dollars on the sports project when less was being spent on basic needs like education, health and housing.
Teachers and civil servants, were among those that protested across Brazil. They demanded for basic needs and not stadiums.
“Our goal is symbolic,” Guilherme Boulos, the head of Homeless Workers Movement told the BBC.
“We don’t want to destroy or damage the stadiums. What we want is more rights for workers to have access to housing and to show the effects that the Cup has brought to the poor.”
But while Guilherme and thousands of the other protestors had genuine concerns, if one looks beyond the shiny new stadiums –a more positive story emerges for Brazil despite being eliminated from the tournament yesterday.
It must be said that World Cup-related investments have not only helped finance sustainable infrastructure that will benefit Brazilians long after the final whistle blows, there is a profound legacy that will ultimately make the country and Olympic Games a spectacle in future.
A man takes a selfie in front of the architectural rendering boards before the ceremony marking the opening of construction at the Deodoro Sports Complex for the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic games in Rio de Janeiro. PHOTO/AFP
I will start with the most crucial but less measurable benefit that this World Cup has brought Brazil. The tournament has without a doubt boosted patriotism and national unity in the country.
After unprecedented protests threatened to undermine the tournament, all protesters chose to look to the positive side.
I must say, it has been a real pleasure to see protesters revel in a show of nationalism throughout the event. They chose to embrace the tournament and pretty much every Brazilian took to heart the tournaments’ motto of “A time to make friends”.
All Brazilians have been incredibly friendly, never mind the profound linguistic barriers that have constrained inter-personal communication in this Portuguese speaking country.
More Brazilians now understand English
Because football is such an established universal language, it has been easy using basic football vocabulary to communicate.
Goal, pass, dribble, shot, corner, free-kick and cross are some of the football expressions that came off so easily on the lips of Brazilian football fans.
Before the tournament started, it was Portuguese throughout. You needed a Google translator to find your way to the hotel and to the stadiums on match day. Just one percent of 100 people understood a word in English.
But thanks to the millions of fans–a majority of whom were English speaking –that came through for the tournament, more Brazilians are now able to understand Basic English grammar.
Uganda’s Olympics team will not find it extremely difficult to communicate or find its way round Rio de Janeiro.
Workers install a sign before the ceremony marking the opening of construction at the Deodoro Sports Complex. PHOTOA/AFP
Despite criticisms surrounding infrastructure costs and benefits to locals, investments related to the World Cup have also improved the country’s sustainable transport infrastructure significantly.
Although Brazil is blessed with some of the finest Metro Subway train channels around Brazil, there was a burning need to resolve the transport crisis across cities.
Remember this is a country with approximately 200 million people.
A new bus rapid transit (BRT) system was introduced for the tournament and this has helped move over 500,000 fans directly to or to other modes of transportation to access stadiums like Maracana (Rio) and Mineirao (Belo Horizonte).
Four BRT systems will be running by the 2016 Olympic Games.
Although hosting the World Cup will not add significant dollars to the Brazilian economy, what it has certainly done, ahead of the Olympics, is raise the global profile of this country.
The World Cup has acted as a giant advertisement for Brazil and its host cities, showcasing them as places in which to invest.
The World Cup was a litmus test, but one Brazil has passed with excellent grades.
There will be no financial concerns for the Olympics as the International Olympics Committee normally injects back more than 90 percent of its income into sport.