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After the World Cup: a photo essay

In the aftermath of the World Cup in Rio de Janeiro, this series of snapshots provides a glimpse of the visual marks left behind. The inequity of development and the spectre of mass protest continue to haunt the cityscape.

Jennifer Cearns
19 September 2014

Aside from a humiliating 7-1 defeat, Brazil seems to have come out of the FIFA World Cup 2014 rather well. The violent mass protests that dominated international headlines at the initial kick-off were quickly stomped out, and despite much negative press about raging inequality, corruption, violence and the deaths of various construction works, most coverage once the event was underway depicted sunny beaches, samba, and smiling fans enjoying their holiday. Meanwhile the swathes of homeless, destitute, and poverty-stricken Brazilians, whose stories were recounted by indignant foreign journalists in the run-up to the event, have since faded back into hushed anonymity.

This collection of photos focuses upon the visible aftermath of the World Cup in Rio de Janeiro; the signs still scattered across the city that the hoards of tourists and press were not a dizzying illusion. As normal life gets underway once again, these visual marks tell of a mixed reaction amongst Brazilians, showing how much was achieved to prepare Rio for the World Cup, and how far there is left to go before the Olympics in 2016. 

Construction workers

Construction workers. Credit: Jennifer Cearns. All rights reserved.Construction workers take down the TV studios where international journalists reported on the World Cup next to Copacabana beach.

Homeless in Ipanema

Homeless in Ipanema. Credit: Jennifer Cearns. All rights reserved.A homeless man sleeps next to his possessions in Ipanema, home to some of the city's most wealthy inhabitants. Several early reports claim homelessness has increased in many areas as a result of the World Cup's construction and demolition projects around the city.

Selling footballs on Ipanema beach

Selling footballs on Ipanema beach. Credit: Jennifer Cearns. All rights reserved.Ronaldo has sold footballs on Ipanema beach since he was a child, but told me he sold fewer during the World Cup than normal: “The types of people that came to the beach during the World Cup were the poorer tourists who couldn't go to see the match. Lots of Argentinians drove here, then slept on the beach to save money. The people with money didn't want to spend it. I'm glad it's over”.

Homeless in Rio

Homeless in Rio. Credit: Jennifer Cearns. All rights reserved.Next to the demolition work, a homeless man sleeps under the Rio de Janeiro government sign, watched by a wealthier local resident.

View of the Maracana stadium

View of the Maracana stadium. Credit: Jennifer Cearns. All rights reserved.View over to the Maracanã stadium and the trainlines in front, 1 week after the World Cup final.

Favela reflection

Favela reflection. Credit: Jennifer Cearns. All rights reserved.The favela opposite is mirrored in the shiny windows of the Maracanã stadium, which, despite so much international attention, does not seem to have brought much prosperity to the surrounding area.

Deserted stadium entrance

Deserted stadium entrance. Credit: Jennifer Cearns. All rights reserved.The deserted entrance to the Maracanã stadium looks as if the World Cup finished 20 years ago, rather than the 1 week prior to this photo being taken.

Patrolling nothing

Patrolling nothing. Credit: Jennifer Cearns. All rights reserved.A security guard patrols the Maracanã stadium, striding through scattered bins of discarded FIFA signs and broken props, guarding against the invisible floods of visitors which have yet to appear. He proudly tells me that while he was not allowed in to watch the games themselves, he could hear them from his post on the outside, and many tourists wanted to pose for photos with him. “It's the uniform” he tells me, “everyone knew I was important, and I was right here in the middle of it all”.

Cleaning up

Cleaning up. Credit: Jennifer Cearns. All rights reserved.The clean-up of the streets begins in earnest.

Graffiti protests

Graffiti protests. Credit: Jennifer Cearns. All rights reserved.Graffiti protests against the World Cup, calling for more education, less corruption, and mocking Brazil's focus instead upon football.

"We want our tram"

"We want our tram". Credit: Jennifer Cearns. All rights reserved.Graffiti left on a wall from before the World Cup, with Neymar hoisting the trophy above his head, an onlooking victorious Brazilian coach, and a sobbing Messi in the corner. Meanwhile, the central figure protests at the abandoned tramlines in front of the image, saying “we want our tram”.

Police presence

Police presence. Credit: Jennifer Cearns. All rights reserved.Late at night, policeman stand guard in one of Rio’s tourist districts, backed by graffiti criticizing the World Cup, inequality and corruption in Brazil. An increased and visual police presence on the streets throughout the games and beyond is one undisputed result of the World Cup.

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