With only a few days to go before the beginning of the World Cup, one of the main concerns of journalists like myself is the amount of bad information that is getting published abroad.
A couple of weeks ago, Danish journalist Keldorf Mikkel Jensen announced that he was giving up covering the World Cup because of the problems he saw in Fortaleza -- mostly, because he heard that street children were being killed "to clean up cities and make a good impression for the World Cup." "Often, they kill them at night, when they're sleeping, in an area full of tourists," he wrote.
This extremely serious accusation was promptly dismissed by NGOs who work with street children in Fortaleza. Director of NGO "O Pequeno Nazareno" Adriano Ribeiro admitted that he had heard such claims, but did not find any evidence of such a brutal crime.
Claims that the government is taking out money from the education or health budget to fund the World Cup are equally wrong. Other problems, such as sexual exploitation of girls for prostitution and repression against streets vendors, are much older than the World Cup but were indeed vamped up by the arrival of the event. Reporting on such themes is extremely important, and the fact that the foreign media is paying attention to them is a great virtue of the mega-event -- and one that Brazilians noticed quite quickly.
One of the questions foreign correspondents keep asking me when I tell them to separate facts from fiction is: but then why are Brazilians so angry?
With the world's attention focused on the football nation, Brazilians have decided to take this opportunity to show everyone they are not happy with the way FIFA and our government led the process, spending way too much with lack of oversight and dialogue with the affected populations. On the other hand, the way the event is organized -- with stadia being refurbished for VIPs to enjoy games at ridiculously expensive prices -- means that most Brazilians who have always dreamed of seeing the World Cup were really not invited to the party. Which is why taking to the streets to protest is one of the most important and timely things Brazilians can do right now.
With the entire world watching, this is the time to yell that we are not satisfied. And in many ways, no matter what happens over the next couple of weeks, Brazilians have already made their point, and made the 2014 World Cup a historic World Cup. The world public opinion will never look at the FIFA tournament the same way. And this is our way of participating, and claiming back protagonism, in the biggest festival in the world.