With just seven months to go until the 2014 FIFA World Cup begins, plenty of plans are already being made by participating nations and their fans to visit host country Brazil and enjoy the tournament.
While the World Cup is traditionally a time of celebration and enjoyment for many nations' fans to mix with each other, concerns linger in some quarters over protests that have been taking place in the host country which might provoke security fears.
A recent incident in Sao Paulo caused more concerns, with FIFA downplaying the risk to visiting supporters for the World Cup.
However, while the protests are not entirely likely to dissipate once the tournament begins, FIFA should perhaps not hold too many concerns that visiting spectators will be unduly affected.
Crime, violence and protests are not exclusive to Brazil.
There were similar concerns over the tournament being held in South Africa, while none of the United States, Mexico or Russia—all past or future World Cup hosts—have their own problems with crime. Every nation does.
That is why FIFA allocate specific perimeters around stadiums and checkpoints through which all fans must pass to even get close to the ground on match day.
Tournament-goers who don't actually have tickets for the matches themselves tend to congregate in large fan zones, watching the game in numbers, experiencing the atmosphere and the cosmopolitan nature of the World Cup in relative serenity.
The protesters themselves are mainly looking at the Brazilian government's choices of spending huge sums on hosting the World Cup instead of on schools, jobs and other needs of society. Their issue is not with the World Cup itself, nor will it be with the people who visit their nation to enjoy the tournament. Those people will likely be spending money while there, and that can bring better prosperity to a township.
Inside the stadiums, there is seemingly a different demographic watching Brazil's national team than the one that cheers on the club sides—at times with violent outcomes, such as that in Sao Paulo.
James Young of the Independent reports:
The soaring prices may also be changing the look of Brazilian crowds. While the country's fluid mix of races and skin tones makes racial classification complex, Brazil's upper classes tend to be decidedly lighter-skinned than the majority of their less-well-off countrymen. The supporters who paid high prices to watch the Seleçao (the national team) lift the Confederations Cup in June, for example, were largely unrecognisable from those who congregate on the drafty corner terrace of Corinthians' ageing Pacaembu stadium.
Violence and problems from fans inside the World Cup stadiums should have no place in the game, and it is not particularly likely that we will see any in Brazil next summer.
The protests outside of grounds may well continue, but they are not something which should stop people from visiting the host nation.
Vigilance should always be championed, and no venue will ever be completely, perfectly incident-free while unscrupulous or desperate people alike are on the planet, but there should be no great reason to suggest that this World Cup will be any worse to visit than the 2010 event already gone, or the 2018 version yet to come in Russia.