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Football in the Favela - A Reflection by Chris McDonnell.





The Festival of football, the World Cup of 2014, has begun and all over the world fans of the beautiful game are preparing for a great celebration of sport.

Thirty two countries have sent teams to Brazil and throughout the month of June, they will play until finally a victor emerges on Sunday July 13th. New stadia have been built, at huge expense, for the contest to take place, inviting visitors from across the world  to come and watch the games; how many of the local people will be able to buy a seat is another matter. Brazil, five times world champions, has for so long been a fervent footballing nation, producing many great and hugely talented players.  But in the weeks that have led up to the World Cup of 2014, and in the hours before kick off in the first game, there have been demonstrations and disturbances on the streets in Brazil by people whose standard of living is low and whose home, more often than not, is the Favela. 

The word "favela" has become attached to the slums of big cities in South America, particularly Brazil. A brief background history can be found on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Favela

They present a stark contrast between rich and poor, those who have and those who have not. The image above shows colourful street art covering many walls in the Favela, an attempt to hide the crude building materials of the dwellings as well as offering an immediate place for social and political comment. The graffiti that can be seen alongside rail tracks as you approach many cities is often of little consequence, the graffiti of the Favela is something altogether different. Contrast the image of children playing with a ball in the street with the background image of the wall artist that heads this posting and you wonder what will be their share in the current festival of football.

Bill Shankley, the legendary manager of Liverpool FC here in England is reported as once saying:  'Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that.' 

Maybe a tongue-in-cheek comment but for some who love the game (and I include myself) you can tap into the sentiment that he was trying to get over. But for others, who have little or nothing, the contrast between the expense of this contest, the wages being paid to players and managers and their own meagre existence cannot be greater. A brand new stadium looks great from the air until you walk round the corner and see where people are living.

Pope Francis popefootball.jpgtoo loves football, a long time supporter of San Lorenzo in Buenos Aires,he was presented with a team shirt a few months after his election. Yet he has had an insistent message that the Church should be a Church of the Poor and  not be seen as extravagant in life style or attitude.

Don't let us forget, amid the excitement and drama of these international games, with their world-wide television coverage, that survival for many millions of people is not winning the next game but having enough to eat the next day and a sheltering home for their family in the night time hours that follow.      




                                      The Two Faces of Brasil  


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