Take the biggest Iron Bowl game in history and multiply the atmosphere times a billion. You wouldn’t come close to what Mobile native Shomari Figures described during his experience at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
World Cup! Maracanã Stadium, Rio de Janeiro
It was four years ago in 2010 while studying for the bar and watching the World Cup in South Africa that Mobile native and Washington D.C. Attorney, Shomari Figures embarked on the idea to travel to the 2014 World Cup.
Figures would have to wait four years for what he expected to be another vacation abroad and a chance to witness an amazing sporting event. But, the trip would one day mean so much more to a 28-year-old man who has already experienced some life-changing moments; from receiving his Juris Doctorate at only 24-years-old, to serving as Field Director for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign in Washington D.C.
Figures, who doesn’t follow soccer, in fact he’s never played the game, says what drove him nearly 5,000 miles from his home in Washington D.C., is a profound respect for international competition.
“Most of the nations involved in the world don’t have much obviously as America and most of your more western countries. The World Cup serves as a sense of pride for the people that come from those countries. Soccer is something that the people can unite in and celebrate. It’s a symbol of pride. The average fan has as much pride in their soccer teams or more than your most fanatical Alabama or Auburn fan,” Figures said.
Citizens protest for needs not wants
According to Figures, there were protests going on, but none that were violent or damaging. He said the people were protesting for what they consider viable needs.
“All of the protest that we saw were very organized, very civilized. The people were very well behaved. The things that they were protesting over were I guess, some of things people would consider American cause protests or things that Americans would protests over.”
When speaking with locals about protests, Figures says the people were upset because of money still needed for what they believe are basic human needs vs. the reported billions Brazil had allocated for the World Cup.
“From discussions that I’ve had with the locals, it boiled down to fact that the nation of Brazil, the government, spent about 8-billion dollars on the world cup and there are many places where they don’t have schools. They don’t have hospitals. They don’t have running water. They don’t have the basic necessities that a Government provides, in a lot of these nations so they took issue with that and they protested for it. “I don’t think I have ever seen first-hand, the volume of extreme poverty I’ve seen in some areas of Brazil, Figures said.
In analyzing people with poor backgrounds here in America I don’t think the poorest upbringing in America can compare with the poverty that I’ve witnessed just traveling to and from the airport here in Brazil, Figures said.
Video- FIFA Fan Fest American Goal vs. Portugal
The people were very energetic and friendly, a very boisterous atmosphere, very celebratory atmosphere, very loud, I didn’t expect it to be that loud.
– Shomari Figures
“It was very interesting to see how sports can serve as an international language, an international element that causes bonding, despite where you’re form despite what language you speak. There were a lot of people from all over the world, yet everyone was there for the same thing, to celebrate Futbol.
He says, that no American sports can compare to the pride that those countries take in Soccer, it’s soccer or nothing to them, It’s all they have. In America, we have so much more, we have an option.
From Toulminville to Brazil
Shomari Figures is the son of the late Michael Figures and Alabama Senator, Vivian Davis Figures. He graduated from John L. Leflore Magnet High School in 2003, then went on to the University of Alabama to receive a Bachelors degree in Pre-law in 2006. In 2010, Figures received his Juris Doctorate degree from The University of Alabama School of Law. Figures currently works as an attorney in Washington D.C.