FIFA says there no plans to abandon Confederations Cup tournament in Brazil and no discussions have taken place on the issue
— Sky News Newsdesk (@SkyNewsBreak) June 21, 2013
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.