Where's the happiness?

As the mostly excellent Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski book Soccernomics noted a few years ago, you don't make money out of hosting a World Cup. What you do gain though, is happiness. 

Despite folklore to the contrary, they found suicide numbers actually go down when the World Cup is on, and even the most cynical locals in host countries admit in poll after poll that football fever floats the nation on a jubilant river of goodwill for FIFA's four week voyage.
 
And then we have Brazil. There are few countries in the world that better symbolise happiness, with or without a World Cup. Stereotype cliches like samba, beach football, bikini babes et al sell a story of joy to the world...throw in a World Cup and we should be hitting peak glee
 
But we're not. There's just not that buzz yet - at least not here in Vitoria. There are demonstrations going on all over the country as project after project remains unfinished just hours away now from kick off in the first match. Money, they say, has been squandered everywhere.
 
In Sao Paulo yet another worker was killed just yesterday building the monorail system that was supposed to open in time for the start of the tournament. It won't, but people are still dying as they try to make the deadline. The death sparked yet another demonstration, about the saefty standards on site, one of many such protests up and down the country.
 
 
In the streets of Vitoria, there are Brazil flags hanging from the occasional window - but still heavily outnumbered by the less patriotic laundry hanging out to dry - while businesses are of course getting into the swing of things in the hope that swollen national pride will help swell coffers.
 
From the bars on the beachfront swathed in green and yellow, to the women's boutiques in Vitoria's posher suburbs selling tiny tight designer-style Brazil tops to the pumped up silicon-enhanced local ladies of leisure, there is money to be made from the World Cup.
 
But where is the happiness? We're two days out and so far, I'm slightly stunned to say I'm not actually feeling it yet. I spent hours today walking around town (it's beautiful and very safe in the area we're near at least) but the vibe's just not there yet. 
 
I saw teachers putting up Brazil bunting in the school playground, but the kids nearby seemed oblivious. You see plenty of locals walking around in football tops - but almost without exception they are Western Sydney Wanders-wannabe Flamengo shirts, not Selecao ones.
 
In the cafe today, a local asked us where we were from - and then impressively reeled off the names of vintage Australian surfers like Mark Occhilupo and Mark Richards. Football never came up once...
 
The homeless woman who approached us just seconds later had no opinion on the football either. She just wanted us to give her something to eat. The other homeless man a bit further up the street wasn't wearing any football shirt of any kind. He didn't have any shirt to wear at all, just a pair of shorts. The World Cup's booster shot of bulk happiness also seems to have passed by the homeless bloke curled up under a rag of rug on the beachfront.
 
In 48 hours when Brazil take on Croatia, the mood will probably all change and this World Cup will be the very thing we've all dreamed about, that once in a lifetime experience, that tournament where if you only go to one World Cup then this, this is the one to be at...
 
But for now the mood is distinctly subdued. Where's the happiness? Hopefully it's on its way - let's hope it gets here soon... 


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