RIO DE JANEIRO – Droves of Brazilian soccer fans armed with paint, paper and scissors flock to decorate their streets ahead of the FIFA World Cup in Russia, despite a noticeable decrease in enthusiasm this time around, compared to past years.
The 40-year-old tradition is threatened by a “collective apathy” stemming from several factors, including the memory of Brazil’s stunning 7-1 defeat at the hands of Germany in the 2014 World Cup final, which squashed the dream of bringing home the country’s sixth cup that year.
Other causes include the lingering effects of the 2015-2016 economic recession – which put as many as 13.4 million Brazilians out of work – as well as the biggest corruption scandal in the country’s history and the wave of violence in the wake of the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics, which resulted in some 6,731 murders last year and forced President Michel Temer to deploy up to 10,000 soldiers and security agents from other states in Rio.
Daniel da Silva, a die-hard fan, has been organizing the decoration of the city’s Honorio de Barros Street since 1978.
“I think that (the apathy) is due to what has been happening throughout the country,” he told EFE, citing the financial and political crises, as well as corruption.
Bruno – one of the organizers of the committee tasked with decorating Pereira Mendes Street – said that, while in the past they saw large amounts of neighborhood participation, and as much as $2,600 dollars in contributions and sponsorships by local businesses, this year the support has been noticeably lacking.
Local residents, however, did manage to gather more than 12 gallons of paint for the murals covering both sides of the street, along with as much as two miles of plastic “ribbons” to make the streamers fluttering overhead.