As Tweets of the increasingly large protests in Brazil continue to reveal a country in turmoil, the national football sections are mostly silent. The Guardian leads with news of Arsenal signing Real Madrid forward Gonzalo Higuain, The Daily Mail leads with news of Thiago Alcantara signing for Manchester United for £17 million, and ESPNFC has a lead editorial on the continued vilification of Fernando Torres.

This is not to blame anyone. Football sections are for football, and the reasons for the protests are becoming more and more politically diverse, as is often the pattern with national uprisings. We cannot expect soccer writers to be political scientists. For those of them not in Brazil, and for us at home, the only sense of the tournament is a static green pitch with changing teams and changing backgrounds. The stadiums are simply names, as are the cities in which they’re located. Once the game is over, it all disappears. Television separates football from geographical and cultural context.

FIFA understands this. Their interest is not in the well-being of Brazil, but in the World Cup. This is why they required the Brazilian government to override the national Fan Code of Consumer Protection to make way for FIFA’s draconian General Law of the World Cup, allowing for tax-free consumer zones and the end of provisions allowing ticket discounts for students and seniors, all to maximize profits for FIFA.

This is why people like FIFA’s general secretary Jerome Valcke have said in the recent past, “…less democracy is sometimes better for organizing a World Cup.” FIFA regards the world as a giant television studio for its lucrative product, convincing host nations to claw at each other and submit bribes to ExCo members in return for the right to sign over their economic rights and build white elephant stadiums for a month-long tournament.

They did not count of course on the nation of football worshippers to dare question their governments allegiance to the self-interested whims of an unaccountable governing body. Now, the preparatory event is in shambles, the subject of rumours of cancellations. If FIFA want the World Cup to be a celebratory event, they will need to work with the government to allow concessions to satisfy protesters that every day Brazilians will eventually see tangible benefits from the tournament. They’ll need to start right now, today.

Comments (4)

  1. Man it would be great if somehow the World Cup got moved to the States.

  2. It would be even better if the Brazilian government changed its tune and told FIFA to go screw itself with its own laws; they are going to make 1 billion this year instead of 4. Pay back for Sepp and friends taking massive kick backs on the Qatar deal. Let people into the stadium for cheaper tickets, charge tourists taxes on things they buy in Brazil, and save the police for the corrupt politicians FIFA representatives.

  3. Yeah, FIFA just utterly makes me sick. Seems like their new MO is to jam up nations from the 2nd/3rd world and force them to spend gargantuan amounts of money for “white elephant” facilities that will never be used again. And the less democratic the potential host, the better.

    The carrot being the prestige of the World Cup, etc.

    Problem is, there are only so many Russias and Gulf autocracies to go around. It does not take the prognosticative abilities of a Nostradamus to envision China being on FIFAs shakedown list too. But after that, who? North Korea, maybe? Would even Sepp Blatter get into bed with a nation that does a creditable impression of a giant concentration camp?

    • Well if Qatar can make the list, you can add every other petrol state on there as well. I don’t think they’ll have any trouble finding a match for date night.

      I’d also say that shaking down countries for questionable infrastructure projects isn’t just a 2nd/3rd world game. You can target just about anybody who has a wild imagination, greasy hands, and a populace that will readily accept being hosed. That’s pretty much how the IOC has operated for as long as I can remember.

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