Will The Beautiful Game Turn Ugly In Brazil Amid Angry Protests At £7.6bn Cost Of World Cup Finals?


On Friday, the great and the good from the planet's best footballing nations will gather in a five-star Atlantic holiday resort in Brazil to witness the draw for next summer's World Cup. England manager Roy Hodgson will be there to learn who Wayne Rooney and his team-mates must face in the group stages of the competition. So, too, will Vicente del Bosque, coach of reigning champions Spain, and Luiz Scolari, the former Chelsea manager who now coaches the hosts.

The tournament will be promoted as a sun-drenched, inclusive and glorious celebration of what Brazilians like to call 'the beautiful game'. But according to one of the greatest strikers the game has known, it will be anything but that. Romario de Souza Faria scored 364 goals for PSV, Barcelona and Brazil in a glittering career and was the player of the tournament when his country won the World Cup in 1994.

Now, as a 47-year-old Brazilian Socialist Party politician, Romario expects the World Cup to be overshadowed by mass protests and riots as the ordinary people of Brazil take to the streets not to celebrate the beautiful game but to protest against their country's massive spending – £7.6billion – on a sports event when millions of their countrymen are struggling to get by.