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June 18, 2014

Recife - the World Cup's Calmer Side

by Nicolas Pinault

It has been nearly a week since football's World Cup kicked-off in Brazil.  But the opening match in San Paulo on June 12 did not curtail the protests that started before the tournament. While they are smaller than before - usually a few hundred people - the protesters continue to say 'no' to FIFA and the World Cup, asking for more investments in health or education.

Recife, one of the 12 World Cup venues, is relatively calm and its population is watching the events in Rio de Janeiro and San Paulo from a distance.
 
Recife is famous for its beaches and today, like any other day, hundreds of people are playing beach soccer. Others prefer swimming in the ocean - even though authorities officially warn of the danger of shark attacks.
 
With the World Cup under way, everybody thinks about soccer. But everybody also has something to say about the ongoing protests.  Enzo is an amateur artist. He thinks the protests show the maturity of Brazilian society.
 
"This Cup is a good legacy. It shows that Brazilians are more mature, democratically speaking. Like anything in life, you have good and bad things," he said.
 
Protests in Rio and San Paulo seem far away from Recife.  On the waterfront, people are working out.
 
Realdo is one of them. Even though he thinks there's corruption involved in the World Cup, he wants to enjoy the tournament.
 
"It's very nice. It makes a lot of people happy and I think it's worth it.  I know there is corruption behind that, but what could we do?  It's a World Cup after all," he said. "I think that's it.  It's worth it.  And Brazil is doing quite well. Not much violence, and I think it's ok."
 
And while it's almost unbelievable in Brazil, you also have those who do not care about soccer. One of them is Roberta. Nevertheless, she has a strong opinion about the protesters.

“I think it's a good thing [the World Cup], but I don't think it should have happened here," she said. "We have a lot of issues, like health and schools.  But since it is already here, we have to do the most of it, enjoy it.  I don't think this is the good time to protest.  We're going to have elections soon so that's the good time, not the World Cup."

The next presidential election will be in October, when current president Dilma Roussef will run for another term.