Craig Nelson: Ignore the negative press and enjoy sport's prestige events

BRAZIL seems to be wilting at the moment under the full glare of the world’s media.

With the draw for the 2014 World Cup being made in Rio yesterday, and the Olympics set to follow in 2016, the country as a whole is being put under the microscope.

And it is no surprise to me that many journalists don’t like what they see – because they never do.

There is an old saying in journalism that “if it bleeds it leads”.

Pretty distasteful, I know, but it is a good example of the kind of mindset that exists within the industry.

Basically, there is a commonly-held belief that readers are more attracted by bad news rather than good, which is why you find a lot of journalists trying to sift out doomsday scenarios when they often don’t exist.

This trait seems to be heightened in the build-up to major sporting events.

You saw it before the Olympics in London, when the whole G4S scandal blew up and the army had to be drafted in to handle security at the last minute.

There were also major concerns about traffic congestion and ticket sales before the sport kicked in and Team GB won their first medals – then all that negative reporting washed away and the feel-good factor took over.

I remember a similar build-up to the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, when a tabloid reporter did a damning expose about the lax security in the main stadium.

I think he managed to smuggle a few dangerous items past the guards and then jumped to the conclusion that Al-Qaeda would have a field day.

At the time, I was being trained as a press officer at the lawn bowls venue in Heaton Park.

I remember feeling gutted for the organisers that they were getting this kind of negative press when, as far as I was concerned as an insider, they looked to be doing a really good job.

Needless to say, I didn’t see a single terrorist in Heaton Park, and the whole Games passed off peacefully.

Some people may call it scaremongering. I mean, it was widely regarded that the Euro 2012 tournament in Poland and Ukraine would be damned by race-hate hooligans, while the World Cup in South Africa would be blighted by mis-management and muggings.

And now we come to Brazil, where the stadiums are not going to be finished in time, the police will not be able to guarantee the safety of the teams and fans, and political riots will bring the entire, vast country to its knees.

All those stories have surfaced only this week, and while they all seem pretty convincing to me, I may just give the organisers the benefit of the doubt.


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