Working at an international school, I have become much more a citizen of the world, and less a citizen of the US. So when this week’s events in Brazil turned violent, our lunchtime conversations here in Germany were focused on South America.
I am a huge fan of the Sports Spectacular. I was ecstatic when the Olympic committee decided to rotate the Winter and Summer games so that I wouldn’t have to go more than two years without my favorite “thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat.” And when I moved to Germany my love of the Sports Spectacular only increased.
I was swept away by World Cup fever in 2010. I put on my Fußball-Trikot and hit the nearest Biergarten for public viewing. Of course when Euro Cup 2012 took place, I was the happiest girl in the world. But today I’m not so sure about my love of the Sports Spectacular.
When I look at what is happening in Brazil, I wonder at what cost to this country is my entertainment? Next summer I will wear my Schwartz, Rot, Gold, maybe don some face paint, drink my beer and scream with the fans for the best team in die Welt. But those in Brazil will be cheering for what? The payment of 3.5 Billion dollars to have beautiful stadiums made that might never be used again? Many Brazilians are living in poverty; they have no access to health care, and pay high costs to ride the public bus system, which is notoriously unsafe for women.
And then there is FIFA. Much like the International Olympic Committee (IOC), FIFA is governing body of Football worldwide. They provide the event of the World Cup every 4 years, but countries must bid to host that event. FIFA, like the IOC, gives little of the money needed for countries to build the arenas and infrastructure to host the event.
FIFA gets a huge cut of the money made from the event. According to Bleacherreport.com, an online sports magazine, FIFA made $2,000,000,000 dollars off of the last World Cup, while only investing $500,000,000 to the local organizing committee in South Africa. FIFA makes no profits on the ticket sales, they only make profit on the marketing of the World Cup through merchandise and advertising sponsorship.
South Africa made some money in the 2010 World Cup, but they had to build new stadiums, build infrastructure, and pay for the costs of security. To FIFA’s credit, they are trying to be socially responsible, but it looks like too little to me. When the World Cup was in South Africa, they established numerous centers around the continent to increase people’s access to public health care, AIDS awareness, and literacy. 20 centers in all of Africa were set up. Really? They couldn’t do better than that with two billion dollars?
And now Brazil is in crisis. FIFA has to be worried that they have less than 365 days until the kick off of the World Cup 2014. Will Brazil dissolve into greater chaos? Will those who are protesting get their demands met due to world-wide public pressure? After all we want our World Cup and our Summer Games in 2016! But at what cost? I would certainly be willing to sit this round out to see justice done for the people of Brazil.
Pele, the world-famous Brazilian icon of Football asked people to stop the protests in a recent YouTube video. Ronaldo was quoted in the New York Times as saying something like World Cups are accomplished “with stadiums, not hospitals.” How is that a comfort to the millions living without health care?
What do you think? Should we boycott the World Cup and/or The Olympic Games until the reforms are made in Brazil?
*Slogan worn on shirts’ of protestors in Brazil. Still don’t get it? Switch the second letter of both words. The t-shirts were first worn in 2010 when some South African’s protested the World Cup.