Seven years and $11 billion later, the World Cup is poised to begin in Brazil on Thursday. Schools will close for the day and offices are wrapping up the workday early. Hundreds of millions of TV sets around the world are tuning into the same event.
At 9 p.m. today, the 2014 FIFA World Cup is slated to begin with an exciting match between the host city of Brazil and Croatia. Die-hard fans have started to arrive in Sao Paolo to settle in for the monthlong tournament.
Visitors are carrying national flags around the city, partying in the streets and singing together as amused locals look on. Green and yellow, the colors of Brazil’s flag, adorn the streets — alongside anti-FIFA graffiti that encapsulates the feelings of the country's underclass.
Many Brazilians have protested the games, saying money that should have been spent on improving social services and building low-income housing was instead spent on new stadiums for the World Cup.
On Tuesday, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff delivered a nationally televised speech defending the games. Despite the protests and strikes, she said, "every Brazilian should support their team and country as the team prepares to play their first match."