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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

More than half of Brazilians do not care about World Cup 2018, according to poll

Fifty-three per cent treating tournament, which starts on Thursday, with giant shrug, Datafolha poll finds

Fans wave a Brazil flag far, far away from the South American country - in Liverpool - during a friendly last week. Andrew Boyers / Reuters
Fans wave a Brazil flag far, far away from the South American country - in Liverpool - during a friendly last week. Andrew Boyers / Reuters

More than half of Brazilians have no interest in the World Cup in Russia, according to an opinion poll on Tuesday, despite the country's stellar history at the championship.

Fifty-three per cent are treating the World Cup, which starts on Thursday, with a giant shrug, the Datafolha poll found. That was up from 42 per cent in January, possibly reflecting a steady diet of bad news about the economy, corruption scandals, and a truckers' strike that brought the country to a standstill for more than week in May.

The respected pollsters reported that this was the most tepid build-up to a cup since the question was first posed in 1994.

The least interested in the upcoming action in Russia were women (61 per cent), people aged between 35 and 44 (57 per cent), and those living in the south of the country (59 per cent).

Brazil go to their opening game against Switzerland on Sunday with high confidence after an impressive series of qualifiers and warm-ups.

Many believe that Neymar, Gabriel Jesus and company can bring home the trophy for a record sixth time. Brazil is already the record holder with five titles.

Neymar is widely expected to bring home the World Cup after their defeat in 2014. Buda Mendes / Getty Images
Neymar is widely expected to bring home the World Cup after their defeat in 2014. Buda Mendes / Getty Images

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Our take: Cup fever fails to grip a Brazil dealing with bigger problems

The hangover from the semi-final capitulation is still felt across the country, but it is particularly apparent in the city in which it happened. Traditionally here, kerbs are painted green and yellow, bunting is hung from the telephone poles, walls are covered in patriotic, football-related graffiti.

Today, with less than a week until hosts Russia open the tournament against Saudi Arabia, the city of 2.5 million appears as normal.

“Look around” says Jaiderson Santos, sweat dripping down his face from playing seven-a-side at the local Castelão football centre. “There is no excitement. Nothing.

"We’re playing football, we love football, but nobody is talking about the World Cup. Brazilians just have too many other problems to consider now.”

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Read more on the 2018 World Cup:

Neymar attraction for spectators at the Brazil World Cup training camp

Guides, predictions, podcasts, galleries and where to watch in the UAE

Group E guide: Brazil find themselves less reliant on Neymar in Russia

My favourite World Cup moment: The Ronaldo mystery at France 98

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