The World Cup and Presidential Popularity in Brazil

From the political point of view, major sporting events are seen as a way of strengthening a country's institutional image and, as a result, the popularity of its leaders. Events in Brazil in response to the 2014 World Cup, however, point towards other conclusions. The objective of this article is to analyze the relationship between public opinion and the World Cup in Brazil with reference to data from quantitative and qualitative opinion polls conducted by the Office of the Secretary of Communication of the Presidency of the Republic. These analyses suggest that an increasingly critical view on the part of citizens as well as frustration with expectations vis-à-vis essential public services such as health and education had a direct impact on Brazilians' views of the event and their (dis)approval of the Federal Government. Amid a series of demonstrations in 2013 and 2014, the World Cup was transformed from a classic case of bread and circuses into a catalyst for popular dissatisfaction. Instead of a popularity boost and a smooth path to re-election in 2014, Brazilian political leaders found themselves scrambling to deal with the legacy of a World Cup own goal.