Opinion

Re-think the World Cup

Re-think the World Cup
Brazilian soccer national team holding the World Cup. Photo: Ben Radford \ Getty Images
Brazilian soccer national team holding the World Cup. Photo: Ben Radford \ Getty Images
The following is the first installment of a multi-part series by Global Exchange examining the preparations and aftermaths of the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

 

“There are visible and invisible dictators. The power structure of world football is monarchical. It’s the most secret kingdom in the world.”

So said the great Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano. Thanks to US American sports journalist Dave Zirin, the quote has been getting quite a bit of attention recently. But the power structure of world football is not the only malevolent shadow lurking in the dark today. There has been a great series of injustices secretly unfolding in Brazil ever since the South American giant won its bid for the World Cup back in 2007.

Brazilian artist Paulo Ito created this mural on the doors of a schoolhouse in São Paulo. The image has since gone viral. Photo courtesy of Paulo Ito.

Brazilian artist Paulo Ito created this mural on the doors of a schoolhouse in São Paulo. The image has since gone viral. Photo courtesy of Paulo Ito.
Brazilian artist Paulo Ito created this mural on the doors of a schoolhouse in São Paulo. The image has since gone viral. Photo courtesy of Paulo Ito.

On June 12th, the world will shift its attention and collective body clock south, with the idea that the 2014 World Cup is solely about soccer and national rivalries as the planet’s 32 top teams vie for soccer’s most coveted prize in 12 cities throughout Brazil. While an intriguing storyline for FIFA and its corporate sponsors, the storyline is a misleading half-truth at best.

At one point in time, I wanted to be in Brazil during the upcoming World Cup. To attend the pinnacle event of the world’s most popular sport, in the spiritual home of the sport itself, the idea was alluring – all the more so having fallen in love with that wonderful country and its people after living there for a period of time during 2013.

I envisioned Brazilian flags hanging from balconies, groups of fans chanting in unison, and eruptions of shouts from outdoor cafes in Rio following a goal by Neymar. The sun would be shining, live samba would be flowing from open-air bars, and maybe – just maybe – there would be a raucous celebration throughout the streets of Brazil upon the Brazilian national team winning it all.

But it was an ill-fated vision. One that fell hard and swiftly upon learning what this World Cup is really about.

When I think about the upcoming World Cup now, a very different set of images come to mind.

Photo: Andre Penner/AP
Photo: Andre Penner/AP

I see 14 billion Brazilian taxpayer dollars squandered while FIFA escapes with 4 billion dollars in revenue tax-free. I see the use of those billions of taxpayer dollars to build or renovate stadiums that will sit idle or offensively underused after the World Cup, rather than building badly needed schools and hospitals in a country that is still very much developing and still very much grappling with widespread poverty, inequality, and violence.

I see the forced evictions of thousands of marginalized, low-income favela residents to make room for sport venues and infrastructure projects. I see a corrupt government out to gain for itself and please foreign interests rather than take concern for the welfare of its own people and wondrous natural environment.

I see the hijacking of a country by a select elite few, including FIFA, corrupt politicians, and foreign corporations. I see police brutality and a thinly layered mascara attempting to cover up deep-seated and festering social dynamics within society.

And through it all I see the continued endorsement of the event by major U.S. corporations, as well as hordes of foreign tourists who will flock to the shores and cities of Brazil by the hundreds of thousands, pleasantly ignorant to the true realities of this mega sporting event, the true costs of hosting it in this still-developing nation, the true impact that it has wreaked and will continue to wreak on the lives of many ordinary Brazilians.

The upcoming World Cup in Brazil is not largely about sport, it is about money. It is not about the pinnacle of competition, it is about greed and corruption. It is not about communal enjoyment of games, it is about inequality and corporate power.

It’s time to re-think the World Cup. The façade of sport needs to come down. It can come down as swiftly and forcefully as it did for my glorious visions of the World Cup. And it can start now, with Brazil.

Expose the kingdoms from their secrecy, and the kingdoms will reform. Or fall.

Why Egypt's Education System is Failing
Why Egyptians who boycott the elections are not 'traitors'

Subscribe to our newsletter


Opinion
@DerekPoppert

Follow Derek Poppert on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DerekPoppert

More in Opinion

wadud

Al-Wadud: God’s Forgotten Name

Omar IbrahimDecember 4, 2016
Credit: Martin Roemers/Anastasia Photo

How One Word Reflects a Class Split in Egypt’s Social Dynamics

Ahmed El WakeelNovember 7, 2016
cairoskye

Faring Poorly and Ways Forward: Reforming Egypt’s Policies

Ahmed TohamyOctober 11, 2016
Photo via Mohanad Ehab's Facebook page

93% Leukemia, 100% Freedom: Former Egyptian Prisoner Mohanad Ehab Loses Battle With Cancer

Egyptian StreetsOctober 4, 2016
1280x720-x8y

Should Prostitution Be Legalized in Egypt?

Ahmed El WakeelAugust 29, 2016
b41010a0-4f05-11e4-a6b5-d71674fe9375_burkinis

The Burkini: A Veil of Confusion

Ayman S. AshourAugust 26, 2016
14113807_10154429711463544_218330925_o

President Expiration Dates in Egypt

Mohamed TharwatAugust 24, 2016
Tunisian women, one (R) wearing a "burkini", a full-body swimsuit designed for Muslim women, swim on August 16, 2016 at Ghar El Melh beach near Bizerte, north-east of the capital Tunis.  / AFP PHOTO / FETHI BELAID

Why Banning the ‘Burkini’ is Shameful for Europe

Laurie TreffersAugust 23, 2016
Egyptian Streets is an independent, young, and grass roots news media organization aimed at providing readers with an alternate depiction of events that occur on Egyptian and Middle Eastern streets, and to establish an engaging social platform for readers to discover and discuss the various issues that impact the region.

© 2016 ES Media UG. All Rights Reserved.