Marília Garcez, a volunteer steward at the game, said she had mixed feelings. "It's more beautiful but somehow less Brazilian," she said. "I guess it's more international."
That quote from The Guardian, by a Brazilian asked for her views about the recently refurbished Maracana stadium in Rio, is a telling little lament about the indefinable costs of globalisation.
For those who are unaware, the Maracana is to Brazilian football followers what the MCG is to Australian sports fans: a sort-of secular cathedral. The refurbished Maracana was unveiled to the public yesterday for a friendly between Brazil and England and will feature prominently in the next World Cup and Olympics. I watched the match highlights unaware of the venue, and at first I thought it must have been in the UK. I've seen my share of South American football over the years, yet there was nothing about the stadium that made me think we were in Brazil. It looked generically European or, as the steward above had it, 'more international'.
I'm not an unthinking romantic about this, and I'm not arguing that Brazil and the rest of the developing world is leaving behind some sort of pre-industrial idyll by embracing globalisation and lifting its population out of poverty. Far from it. But just as we are becoming more aware of the environmental consequences of globalisation and growth, it's worth pausing occasionally to also mourn its cultural cost.
Mind you, it's not all one-way traffic: globalisation does not always equal homogenisation.