I came to Recife last year and took a public bus to the Ilha do Retiro to see the Sport-Ponte Preta game.
The ride was more memorable than the game. Passengers were thrown to one side and another as the driver careened round corners. People were quite literally shrieking with fear and begging him to slow down.
I took a taxi home as there was little public transport still running at midnight when the game ended.
On Sunday, I came to Recife’s sparkling new Arena Pernambuco to see Spain play Uruguay in the Confederations Cup. I was taken here and dropped off by an air-conditioned FIFA shuttle bus and got a nice seat in a beautiful stadium.
The two trips were both to see football matches in Recife but the only thing they had in common is 22 players, a ball and the trip along appalling roads filled with pot holes the size of televisions.
Much of the protests that erupted across Brazil last night are not against the World Cup per se. They are directed at the double standard of beautiful new stadiums being built for FIFA at a rush (and huge cost) while the government neglects much more necessary investment in hospitals, schools and sanitation.
This video was made by a friend and that sentiment is summed up by one girl around the 2:40 mark.
“We don’t have health, we don’t have education, we don’t have anything dignified,” she said. “The only thing that they gave us was a stadium. If our child is sick we don’t want to take him to a stadium. We want education for our children and decent health. We don’t have this in Brazil.”