On eve of World Cup, poll shows almost everyone loves Brazil


People wearing Brazilian flags arrive at the Santa Cruz Stadium in Ribeirao Prato to attend France's national football team training session on June 10, 2014. (FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

The mood in Brazil the day before the World Cup begins is not ideal. The country's heavily favored national team is reportedly weighed down with anxiety, struggling with the burden of domestic expectation. Meanwhile, mass protests threaten to cloud the tournament, with many in Brazil angry with the government's wasteful spending, mismanagement and perceived corruption. According to a Pew poll published last week, 61 percent of Brazilians think hosting the World Cup is a bad idea; 72 percent are dissatisfied with "the way things are going in the country."

But a new Pew poll published Wednesday shows that, while Brazilians may be glum, others still think very positively of the samba nation. In a survey of over 40,000 respondents from 37 countries, Pew found that a considerable majority viewed Brazil favorably.

PG_14.06.16_BrazilFavorability

Curiously, Brazil received poor marks from Middle Eastern nations. It's not quite clear why. But elsewhere, the country remains popular.

While a regional power, Brazil rarely acts as the neighborhood bully in Latin America. Nor does it have the sort of footprint overseas that inspires global antipathy toward countries such as the U.S. and China.

Most interestingly, the survey found Brazil was particularly well-regarded by youth, many of whom surely admire the superstars on Brazil's soccer team. The sport, as I detailed here, presented Brazil with its first and most important tool of soft power. It's a legacy that will likely be burnished when billions tune in this month.

Ishaan Tharoor writes about foreign affairs for The Washington Post. He previously was a senior editor at TIME, based first in Hong Kong and later in New York.

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Ishaan Tharoor · June 11, 2014