Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff Hits Back at World Cup Critics

Nick AkermanFeatured ColumnistJune 4, 2014

AP Photo/Eraldo Peres

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff believes the nation's faltering World Cup preparations are normal, saying, "Everywhere in the world these big engineering projects always go down to the wire," as reported by BBC News.

Rousseff hit back at critics who questioned the suitability of holding this year's major tournament in the South American country. With eight days until Brazil open proceedings against Croatia, reports continue to circulate detailing "incomplete" stadiums and infrastructure, per Vincent Bevins of the LA Times.

President Rousseff indicates only one country would have managed to finish the nation's new transport system in time, saying, "Nobody does a (subway) in two years. Well, maybe China," per BBC News. She says delays are "the cost of our democracy."

Eraldo Peres/Associated Press

The momentous amount of money spent hosting such an event has caused mass protest, some of which has turned violent. Many members of the Brazilian public believe the money would have been better deployed on education and addressing mass poverty across the nation.

Leonardo Pelegrini dos Santos, a university student in Sao Paulo, summed up why the public outcry has been so consistent, saying, "It is money that should be invested in better health and education services and better transportation and housing," per the Associated Press and via BBC News.

Dos Santos' thoughts are echoed by Brazilian legend Pele, who recently slammed the country's lack of progress, as reported by Carl Long of The Sun (subscription required) and via Paul Collins of the Daily Mail.

"There has been significant time to get the stadiums finished. The situation is unacceptable – it is a disgrace. The political situation is difficult. Our team has nothing to do with the ongoing corruption that has delayed construction of the stadiums," Pele said.

Mark Lennihan/Associated Press

Protests have continued to swirl since last year's Confederations Cup. Rousseff indicates Brazilian police will "fully guarantee people's security" despite previously turning violent as protests became increasingly heated.

Rousseff is in a decent position to understand what the Brazilian public are going through. Arrested in 1970 as a member of the Palmares Armed Revolutionary Vanguard—a group who aimed to oppose the nation's military dictatorship at the time—she decided to support the nation during its World Cup win of the same year despite difficult circumstances, as reported by Simon Romero of the New York Times.

"At that time, many people opposed to the government initially questioned whether we would be strengthening the dictatorship by rooting for Brazil's team," revealed Rousseff. "I had no such dilemma."

BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL - JUNE 22:  A fan holds up a sign reading 'Stop Corruption' during the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 Group A match between Japan and Mexico at Estadio Mineirao on June 22, 2013 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.  (Photo by Ronald Mart
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Rousseff's comments may subtly urge Brazilians to back their team without causing a disturbance. Her extraordinary history, detailed in 2010 by Hugh O'Shaughnessy of the Independent, is built upon the fact that she "wanted to change the world."

While the World Cup will provide plenty of entertainment and is likely to produce quality sporting arenas when complete, there's a general sense that the public could have benefited from having their basic needs addressed.

President Rousseff's comments scream of someone whose back is to the wall as the pressure increases. The nation has been far too deep in this mess for too long and faces a nightmare week before the big kick-off. Although Rousseff indicates everything will be fine once the tournament arrives, thousands of Brazilians may have a different point of view to express.