If professional sports aren’t euvoluntary enough to survive on their own merits, then maybe more of us should hit the big orgs like FIFA, the NFL, and the NCAA where it hurts: right smack dab in the pocketbook. We may not have favelas in the States, but we do have a large, nearly unanimous literature that clearly states: “independent work on the economic impact of stadiums and arenas has uniformly found that there is no statistically significant positive correlation between sports facility construction and economic development.” (Siegfried & Zimbalist, JEP 2000)
But while the demonstrations have now diminished in size, Fifa and the government have been left shocked at how citizens in the self-proclaimed “country of football” turned on preparations for the World Cup during the rallies.
In a bid to prevent a repeat, Brazil’s government is promising tens of billions of euro in extra spending on public services, another source of ire.
However, deeply entrenched practices that mix mismanagement with corruption are as big an obstacle to better public services as a lack of funding. Analysts warn more cash may not be enough to resolve the endemic crises in health, education and transport before the country’s gaze is once again drawn to the sparkling new stadiums taxpayers are now on the hook for.
The initial spark for the protests was a rise in bus fares in Sao Paulo. The anger was such that, even in a country often caricatured for its deification of soccer, the World Cup, its surrogate cousin the Confederations Cup and the game’s global governing body FIFA, have all become symbolic of corruption and waste.
Protesters believe the tournament has seen the rich line their pockets, while the poor make do with crumbling public services. The World Cup, it seems, has sparked something that has lain dormant for a long time.
. . .
For FIFA, who have been critical of Brazil’s preparations for the World Cup, the protests are an unwelcome complication for a tournament already long behind schedule. “People are using the platform of football and the international media presence to make certain demonstrations,” said FIFA president Sepp Blatter who, alongside the Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff, was booed by the crowd at the opening ceremony on Saturday.
Speaking in an interview in Rio on Monday, he said: “You will see today is the third day of the competition this will calm down. It will be a wonderful competition.”
But the protests have not calmed down. The day after Blatter’s interview, the biggest demonstrations yet took place. Sanabria and Freitas agreed that the Confederations Cup, which continues for another 12 days, is an opportunity to make their voices heard.
Hmm, maybe circuses aren’t working in Brazil any longer. Too bad we in the US don’t seem to have gotten the word that publicly funded sports stadia and convention centers are stupid.
It’s crony capitalism all the way down.
Unfortunately, it seems that the future Aldous Huxley predicted in 1932, in Brave New World, is arriving early. Mockery, truculence, and minimalist living are best, then enjoy the decline. However, we do need a Revolving Door Tax (RDT), learn what Members of Congress pay in taxes, and prosecute politicians and staff and their “family and friends” who profit from insider trading.