World Cup & Inequality

(Credit: Reuters/Ricardo Moraes/Vadim Georgiev via Shutterstock/Salon)
(Credit: Reuters/Ricardo Moraes/Vadim Georgiev via Shutterstock/Salon)

The most prestigious tournament in the world gets underway today in Brazil with many football fans eager to watch the most renowned players in the world come head to head.
But behind the veil of luxurious stadiums and ebullient football fans are citizens who have been subjected to much pain and anguish at the hands of Fifa and the Brazilian government.
Contrary to Fifa’s mantra, this World Cup is not for the people.

Protestors have been out fulminating in the streets of Brazil expressing their disapproval towards the Brazillian government and the complicit Fifa.
Their indignation stems from the obscene amounts money this has cost in taxpayers money, the multitude of evictions, the deaths of workers and the corruption.
11 billion is what the cost amounts to; 3.6 billion is the astronomical figure it has cost the taxpayer despite the initial promise that it would be privately financed.
Unsurprisingly Brazilian public approval of hosting the World Cup has plummeted from 79% in 2008, to just 48% currently.

Fifa’s banal rhetoric that the World Cup has considerable economical benefits to Brazil and will be advantageous to citizens is nothing more than unsubstantiated bilge.
Despite their persistence in peddling this untenable myth it is contrary to the evidence at our disposal.
In a rigorous assessment of the economic impact of major sporting events Holy Cross professor Victor Matheson found the positive ramifications associated with hosting a big sporting event are often exaggerated and starkly overstated. The pretence of major economic advantage is used to justify the colossal sum these mega-events cost, which is to the detriment of impoverished citizens who could greatly benefit from anti-poverty programs.

Public expenditures on sports infrastructure and event operations necessarily entail reductions in other government services, an expansion of government borrowing, or an increase in taxation, all of which produce a drag on the local economy. At best public expenditures on sports-related construction or operation have zero net impact on the economy as the employment benefits of the project are matched by employment losses associated with higher taxes or spending cuts elsewhere in the system.

In terms of income inequality Brazil is one of the worst in the world, and the third worst out of the 32 nations competing at the World Cup.
This act of profligacy from Brazil is an affront to the citizens; the benefits generated from the world cup will predominately benefit already rich people, while exacerbating poverty. A country where the scourge of malnutrition is prevalent simply cannot afford such an extortionate, superficial luxury. The government ought to be prioritising education, anti-poverty programs & healthcare, not a much too expensive football tournament. And yet the Brazilian government have the temerity to publicly chastise the protestors fearing they’re going to mar the event. They beseeched their citizens to be deferential & amicable during the tournament, but under what circumstances does such reckless, irresponsible spending warrant deference?

One of the most egregious incidents is an insidious law passed at Fifa’s behest by Brazilian congress; a law that gives Fifa and its sponsors exclusive commercial control over zones surrounding the stadium. It also exempts sponsors of the tournaments, multinational corporations like McDonald’s and Budweiser from income, industrial and import taxes until the end of 2015.
Fifa were embroiled in another scandal when just last week it was uncovered they were taking bribes for the 2022 World Cup planned to take place in Qatar. Fifa are rife with greed, corruption and arrogance, held in low regard by the public and the prospect of any change occurring is remote, since they answer to no one.
Fifa are sorely out of touch with the public, oblivious to the irreparable damage their decisions are having on people.
It’s morally obligatory that powerful organisations have the discernment to foresee how their decisions may affect others; Fifa have fallen way below that obligation.

This salient example just underscores the omnipresent problem of income inequality, where priorities are misplaced, where the immoral prevail.
Fifa are reaping the rewards of their depravity while innocent citizens are the casualties.
A tournament for the people? More like a tournament for the aristocrats.