05 March 2012

Kicks in the Arse

Last week, Jerome Valcke finally said what we know to be true regarding Brazil’s World Cup preparations – “they need a kick in the ass”. Nonplussed, the Minister of Sport replied that the Brazilian government would no longer deal with Mr. Valcke as an interlocutor. Irritated, Valcke called the Brazilian reaction “puerile” adding that Brazil appeared to be more interested in winning the world cup than hosting it. Sadly for the Brazilians, there doesn’t seem to be much chance of that either.

At the same time, the CBF gathered together the whimpering dogs of the 26 state football federations at the feet of Ricardo Teixeira. Tricky Ricky left the meeting with his power intact. Faced with allegations of international money laundering, receiving bribes, and other malfeasances, Mr. Jowls has an amazing ability to hold on to the reigns of Brazilian football. Let’s not forget that this is the first time that the president of a national football federation is also the president of the World Cup organizing committee. How Teixeira has kept afloat is beyond me.

During Lula’s good-ol-boy government, Teixeira had some solid political coverage. Dilma has changed things somewhat, refusing to meet with him. The president of FIFA has worked to distance himself from this dough-faced dandy leaving a politically isolated figure that somehow convinced the presidents of Brazil’s federations to prop him up through 2014. As I mentioned a post or two ago, I think that FIFA was waiting to see what happened in this meeting to determine what they were going to do with the documents from the ISL money-laundering case. Does FIFA delay releasing the ISL documents in order to preserve the World Cup in Brazil as they look for plan B?

No one has ultimate responsibility for anything related to the 2014 World Cup but that does not mean there aren’t things that need to be done. FIFA cannot be wholly blamed for the stadium cost overruns or transportation projects or the choice of 12 cities across a continent with shoddy airports and no ground transportation. They have a series of demands that they “need” met in order to extract the maximum amount of money in the shortest time frame. FIFA is a pimp for global capital interests, using the World Cup as the emotionally charged smack that blinds us to the accumulation of power and profit. The Brazilian government (at all levels) has used the World Cup preparations as a nominal way to “improve” cities but has repeatedly stepped on the ball in all the ways that I have documented over the last few years. Rio de Janeiro could not, today, handle the World Cup. Other than the completion of the destructive destruction of the Maracanã will that much really change?

With all of this infantile bickering, instead of focusing on the 12 White Elephants, forced removals, idiotic transportation projects, unnecessary hotels, the lack of inter-city transport, the privatization of airports, security, public space, and the massive transfer of public wealth, the media can pay attention to whether or not beer should be allowed in the stadiums or split hairs about whether or not 20,000 indigenous people will be able to watch South Korea x. Slovakia in Manaus. The issues really have nothing to do with Brazil’s ability to build stadia or media centers or airports, but what kind of society is being constructed, how, and for whom.

From a logistical perspective, FIFA is rightly chafed about the delays in everything. This process began four and a half years ago and the legal foundation is still being poured. The Brazilian government is overreacting to FIFA, launching bombast when a more sober consideration of real issues would help. There are major and massive issues to be resolved. Without the legal framework in place, there is nothing that FIFA can do. Without a working relationship between FIFA, the Local Organizing Committee, and the three levels of Brazilian government, this month long party won’t happen. The government isn’t talking to their partners and the communication between FIFA and the CBF/LOC is fractious. I am sure that Valcke and Blatter have thought on more than one occasion: USA 2014

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

That's true. Brazil does not deserve this honour. Too much corruption and lazyness.

Christopher Gaffney said...

Anon, not true. There is a lot of corruption, but there is a lot of corruption everywhere. Laziness has nothing to do with the mis-production of the World Cup or the Olympics and in fact I have been arguing all along that the issues are tremendously complex and nuanced. It is not an honor to host the World Cup, it is an opportunity to welcome the world for a month long football tournament, but that tournament is so out of control that it needs to be re-thought in its totality. Perhaps that is where the laziness comes in...not thinking too hard about things.

Angel Pereira said...

I think Brazil can take this opportunity to put FIFA in check. IMF has less restrictions than FIFA. Hyperbole of course, but to the point that Brazil can really put some of these demands in check and tell FIFA that you can't go to a country and oppose a law that is there to protect its citizens. Valcke was crying foul because Brazil doesn't want to sell alchohol in the games. Many countries don't allow alcohol to be sold at matches but FIFA wants to get paid so Budweiser must be sold. This is just an example of how many sell their souls for prestige just as the Olympics don't bring any money this will be a loss to Brazil economic's wise. Its far from lazyness. How far should anyone have to bend over to appease the masters? How many of ones own procedures and laws must be enacted, ignored and changed to get FIFA and the IOC to be happy? Especially with the World Cup when in essence, the highest bidder wins and has won. Nothing to do with "honour" there.

Angel Pereira said...

I meant to say that Brazil should take the opportunity now that FIFA is basically "bullying" them into submission to play the role of the rebel and address some of the issues that Prof. Gaffney mentioned in this post and really come out on top by changing roles from the incompetent to the rebelious hero. At the minimum in a PR sense. Time to bring the romanticize version of the cangaceiro.

Anonymous said...

Destak's op-ed yesterday summed things up nicely - saying that Brazil knew what it was in for when it signed up for hosting the World Cup. It had been made clear from the beginning that alcohol would be sold. And it's such a stupid law anyway that exists in Brazil - the fights between torcidas happen outside the stadiums, not within...

Christopher Gaffney said...

The Law of the Fan (2003) is basically a code criminalizing all fans. It was unevely applied througout Brazil and as recently as June 2009 one could buy beer in the Maracana. What Lula had possibly intended as a way to guarantee fans' rights turned out to be a way to squeeze out the "popular" crowd and stimulate even more processes of elitization. The World Cup is making this happen even faster, but these tendenceies were already underway. Hopefully, the Law of the Fan will be revisited in the lead-up to the WC and then totally scrapped afterwards with a Fan's bill of rights, and not just a penal code.

Angel Pereira said...

speaking on the ban on alcohol exclusively as I do not know the other aspects of the law etc. Its it such a horrible idea to ban alcohol at sporting events? I mean really? I live in Philadelphia, all you need to do is open the newspaper and read about unrully behavior by drunken fans. In the US they stop beer sales in games after the 3rd quarter of basketball games and football, after the 7th inning stretch etc. to detract from the behaviour of unrully drunken fans. is just easier to ban it than try to control the amount consumed by "fans". We you read about the drop in attendance for futbol matches in other countries due to violence etc., how much is those incidents are helped by alcohol? Its not like brazil is a dry country. just drink before you get to the game and after. I don't think its that hard to go 2 hours without anything.

Christopher Gaffney said...

The idea of banning alcohol isn't horrible as there is some evidence to suggest that people do geta bit more violent under the influence. Hover, there is also evidence to suggest that people get tired and pass out! Those who want to get in drunken fights are going to bring a flask into the stadium or find some other chemicals to get them where they want to go. Not allowing beer in the stadium insinuates that all fans are prone to violence. They sell beer outside the stadium which has much less control and much cheaper suds. The problem, as I see it, with allowing beer during the World Cup and not during "normal" games is that you are basically saying "World Cup fans are civilized (read: wealthy North Americans and Europeans) and can handle their drink, while you ordinary Brazilian punters are violent thugs who only need the short fuse of weak lager to start smashing each other's heads in."

Brazil's Law of the Fan is a criminal code for ordinary people. The exception made for alcohol sales during the world cup will be a good chance to re-think this law and provide a fans bill of rights that will have to be exercised inside of the new Benthamite structures of the marching White Elephants.

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