Saturday 27 December 2014

World Cup opening ceremony pales in Olympic shadows

Martyn Ziegler

Published 12/06/2014 | 21:02

Performers jump on a trampolin during the 2014 World Cup opening ceremony at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo
Performers jump on a trampolin during the 2014 World Cup opening ceremony at the Corinthians arena in Sao Paulo

Comparisons are perhaps unfair but the opening ceremony of the World Cup highlight just why football should leave such events to the Olympics.

Brazil organisers spent €6m on a 45-minute show that was basically dancers in silly costumes parading around a trio of pop stars who were made totally obsolete by the appalling sound system in the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo.

It was a stark contrast to the spectacular shows staged at the Olympic opening ceremonies in Sochi, London and Beijing - but let us not forget that London's budget was €33.5 while Sochi and Beijing are believed to be significantly higher.

And for a country where the level of public spending on the World Cup - €8bn and rising - has become a national scandal, it was no doubt the wisest policy to show some restraint.

For those in the stadium and the watching millions, the only solace was that FIFA president Sepp Blatter and Brazil's president Dilma Rousseff had decided to dispense with any speeches: no doubt still smarting at the memories of the pair being heartily booed at the start of the Confederations Cup a year ago.

So it was left to men on stilts dressed as trees, looking like something out of Lord of the Rings - that's Ent-tertainment - and girls dressed as tulips to somehow convey arguably the most important moment in Brazil's sporting history for more than half a century.

For those inside the stadium, and there were swathes of empty seats in some parts of the stands, this show was nothing more than mildly diverting before the real event of Brazil v Croatia.

There was even a sense of relief when Jennifer Lopez, Pitbull and Brazilian pop star Claudia Leitte jogged off after performing the official World Cup song "We Are One (Ole Ola)".

Indeed the only time the crowd showed any real emotion was when the stadium announcer asked for applause for the three construction workers who died building this stadium - and it is still unfinished - in Sao Paulo.

The message was clear: let the football take centre stage.

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