Writing for the Financial Times, Simon Kuper, a leading commentator and keynote speaker on the interactions between football, politics, economics and culture, describes how things are looking up for Colombia, as “off the field, the country is experiencing its happiest moment in perhaps 50 years; on the field, its happiest ever. Football and real life are intersecting in surprising ways.”
Simon notes that the “country’s calmer political and economic climate probably helps the ‘Cafeteros’”, or coffee growers, as Colombia’s 50-year-old drug-fuelled civil war appears closer to resolution than ever before, and the legitimate economy is doing as well as it has since the coffee boom ended in the 1950s, 1960s.
In a similar positive fashion, the Cafeteros have four straight wins going into today’s quarter-final in Fortaleza against hosts Brazil. In all their previous World Cups combined, Colombia won three games in total. With all eyes on midfielder James Rodriguez, the clean-cut 22-year-old who is the tournament’s leading scorer with five goals, Simon predicts that “Colombia must have their best chance yet against a nervous Brazil.
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Simon Kuper, an expert on the business of football who is currently covering the FIFA World Cup in Brazil, recently put forward four reasons why one should bet against Brazil winning the 2014 World Cup.
- Although all six previous World Cups that were held in Latin America were won by Latin American teams, this was between the years 1930-86 when European players used to arrive from these transoceanic ship journeys overfed and under-trained. Modern footballers now arrive much more at ease and ready for action.
- A World Cup is so short that luck plays a big role, which often confounds favourites.
- The team’s current personnel in no way matches the line-up that one Brazil’s last World Cup in 2002.
- Lastly there is the Brazilian flaw that attackers don’t tire themselves out defending. That’s their weak point.
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In a recent opinion piece for the Financial Times, Misha Glenny, an award-winning journalist, wrote that the World Cup may well have a critical bearing on the presidential elections in Brazil.
Misha argues that although the popularity of the current President, Dilma Rousseff, is slipping, voters find her opponents no more palatable. He goes on to say that neglected infrastructure, corruption and the faltering of policies meant to tackle the violence connected to drug trafficking in the favelas (slums) “has placed a big question mark over Brazil’s ability to manage an event as complex as the World Cup finals, not to mention the Olympics, which the city will host in two years’ time.”
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