The 2014 World Cup has been years in the making for Brazil. On June 12, Brazil will start to see how much it was worth it, as the World Cup kicks off with the home team in action. It took seven years of enduring countless controversies to get here, but now the nation hopes that the next month will bring their soccer team's sixth world title for all that trouble.
First and foremost, Brazil starts the World Cup by playing Croatia at 4 p.m. est on ESPN. On paper, everything looks set for a glorious opening day and an opening victory for the hosts. The toughest tests are supposed to come later on for the Brazilians, even if they don't come in a Group A that also includes Mexico and Cameroon.
A sterner test may come for the actual stadium hosting the game at San Paulo, since it technically hasn't been finished yet. 20,000 temporary seats haven't even been tested, while a roof for the stadium was never completed. Preparations for the entire World Cup have been mired with construction problems, worker endangerment and death, corruption charges, backlash against FIFA, civil unrest and fear of a transit strike -- all over facilities that will never be used again after the tournament.
The problems in preparing for the 2014 World Cup were still relatively low, if only because of the even greater problems looming for the 2018 World Cup in Russia -- and the 2022 Cup in Qatar in particular. FIFA is mired in corruption and bribery charges over awarding the 2022 tournament to Qatar, which may get thousands of workers killed before the first ball drops in 100+ degree temperatures, if it is even allowed to remain the host.
FIFA and Brazil desperately need a successful World Cup now, if only to change the narrative for at least a month. The Brazilian soccer team can certainly help its nation by winning it all, although it has been eliminated in the quarterfinals in 2006 and 2010. Meanwhile, nations like defending champion Spain, the Netherlands, Argentina and Germany have their own goals to lift the Cup at Rio de Janerio on July 13.
First and foremost, just starting the 2014 World Cup smoothly will count as a victory for Brazil. It would like an actual win over Croatia to go along with it, along with six more wins after that.