With just four weeks left until the start of the 2014 World Cup, its presence is already visible all over host country Brazil.
From new infrastructure to social unrest, the world will be watching to see how Brazil handles this massive major event. It's the first World Cup in Brazil since 1950, when six different cities hosted matches between 13 national squads. The 2014 event will see 32 teams play in 12 different cities, seven of which boast completely new stadiums.
Aside from new architectural toys and international attention, the public money poured into the event (combined with the upcoming 2016 Summer Olympics) has come alongside unrest within some of the country's poorest neighborhoods. In just the last three weeks, violent protests fueled by police mistrust erupted in Rio's favelas, and a bus strike has added to the chaos.
Construction workers, meanwhile, are still at work finishing the massive infrastructure projects built for the tournament. São Paulo's brand new international terminal just opened over the weekend, part of a $1.3 billion airport upgrade. That city's other big project, the Corinthians Arena, hosted its first event May 10 despite reports of "missing seats, exposed pipes and unfinished access roads" two weeks prior.
Even among those who despise the politics behind the World Cup coming to their home country, soccer is just as important to Brazil as ever. Amid protests which seem unlikely to stop before the tournament begins, signs of the upcoming event are all around:
Labourers work at the assembly line of Panini's factory, where FIFA's Brazil World Cup stickers and album are produced, in Tambore, an industrial suburb north of Sao Paulo May 5, 2014. The World Cup is around the corner and millions of fans are putting down their iPads to collect and trade soccer stickers, a decades-old hobby that has defied the digital age. Picture taken May 5, 2014. (REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker)
Top image: People watch on television the news conference of Brazilian national soccer team head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari in Rio de Janeiro May 7, 2014. Scolari announced the names of the 23 players who will play in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. 2014. (REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker)