When it comes to celebrating, something you cannot beat celebrating in South America. Those people know how to party and all they need is a reason. What better reason than the World Cup? Soccer is a popular sport all over the world and Brazil has evolved into a prosperous business mecca. Combine the both and you have a quite different city. America has given Brazil loans throughout the years and forgiven their debt. Many South Americans want to work back in their native country since the quality of life has gotten much better and they can make a decent living there.
Presidente Vargas Avenue was a bustling wide business street full of traffic before the championship soccer games came to Brazil. In any other country, a large business street would still be full of traffic except that everyone’s radios would be on blasting the scores of the games. Here the street is desolate as business has come to a halt. Everyone understands why. World Cup Soccer is too important to work no matter what team is playing who. I think it is hysterical and wish I was there to witness it myself. But then, South Americans have always done business with a different sense of priority than the rest of the world.
In essence, we can conclude that the World Cup brings businesses to a halt in Brazil. The 12 Lanes of Presidente Vargas Avenue in downtown Brazil usually hold a mass of autos and busses filled with workers as the afternoon rush hour begins. But 2 hours before a game was set to begin in nearby Maracana Stadium the avenue was so quiet a jay walker could stroll across it and there were few workers to be seen.
In the interest of logistics, traffic and allocating public security resources during the month- long World Cup, Rio and Sao Paulo declared holidays for days when the games were held in those cities. Imagine if America would declare a holiday for any sporting event? We are too business savvy to ever do that. The Brazilian Government justifies declaring holidays to rally nationalistic spirit. In a practical nod to the reality that productivity would be low anyway with many eyes focused on the TV broadcast. Some cities have declared holidays when the Brazilian team has played.
In Rio, that means three extra holidays in one month, and Brazilians are loving and having the forced breaks. The most ridiculous thing is that it can be a game of Argentina and some other team and the streets still don’t have any traffic on them. For the street merchants who do not get holiday pay the lack of street traffic is making them very poor. Some who would have made $125 a day selling roasted peanuts to passing people are now only making $50 per day. The street merchants do not like soccer mania that much.
Brazil is already a world champion in holidays. In Rio, workers have 12 holidays; one city two state and nine national this year. That’s in additional to four optional holidays and 30 paid vacation days a year for salaried workers. No wonder American workers are moving back to Brazil for a better deal. The extra World Cup holidays have thrown a curved ball in the daily lives of Brazilians. Schools across the country adjusted their yearly schedule to finish before the start of the tournament. So does that mean they don’t need more education when games are being played?
Stores are largely shut down but still are paying their workers. The Rio De Janeiro City Union of Shop Owners estimate the losses to local businesses during the World Cup add up to one Billion dollars. Even though tourism brings in a lot of cash, the union says that because of high taxes in Brazil, few tourists are interested in buying products such as clothing. Essential services including hospitals and busses continue to operate on World Cup holidays. Tourism infrastructure such as hotels and in demand commercial establishments including bars like juice and snack bars that often stay open until dawn and serve a steady stream of fans.
The days may be less productive in Brazil’s shops and the workers may be sent home early due to the lack of customers everyone is still happy to be able to drink a beer and watch a game. They will try to make money on another day. Imagine if America was so laid back.