FIFA’s World Cup is upon us.
A few years ago I saw one of those engineering shows on the Discovery Channel or the History Channel or some channel like that. I don’t remember the name of the show, but I do remember what it was about: it was about moving-yes moving–roughly 15 miles of river in Brazil.
Why did they need to move the river you might ask?
Because of Brazil’s poor electrical infrastructure, especially in Rio de Janeiro.
Wait…Isn’t that where the World Cup is being held?
Why yes, yes it is.
Problem being, the show said, was that Rio experiences power outages from time to time and of course when the eyes of the world are on you, and television cameras beam the games across the globe, you don’t want your power going out.
Hence, the moving of the river and the creation of a dam.
It was, I must admit, and impressive undertaking and it amazes me how we as human beings can “accomplish” such a feat.
But it disgusted me all the same.
Why? Because that river front was the ancestral homeland and primary food source for some 10,000 indigenous people. The Brazilian government, in effect, just took their land, displacing them.
The atrocities of course do not stop there. Close to Rio’s Maracan Stadium used to be an abandoned building where, since 2006, indigenous people from more than 30 different ethnic groups made their home. In March 2013, they were evicted. Why? Because Brazil decided it needed to demolish the building (the peoples’ home) to make a parking lot.
Brazil has spend over 15 billion dollars to host the World Cup.
15 Billion Dollars!
World Cup, you see, is big money.
“How much money?” you might ask.
That is a good question. Let us just take a real quick look at the FIFA Financial Report 2010
For the 2007-2010 financial period, FIFA generated 4.189 million (that’s 4+ billion) in total revenue. After spending 3.558 million, FIFA netted 631 million dollars, or 157 million dollars a year.
As of 2010, FIFA’ current assets exceeded 2 billion dollars.
At the same time, thousands in Rio go without.
And people’s homes are demolished or stolen.
For a sport.
It’s a matter of pride.
“Win,” from the Proto-Indo-European root *wen, “to strive after, wish, desire.” Same root for “Venus,” the goddess of love.
Does the desire to love, be loved, feel love underscore the desire to win?
The desire to love, be loved, and feel love unconsciously motivating the forced removal on another’s land, of spending billions of dollars to be on TV, to make an exorbitant amount of more money? Money which probably won’t go to the people who need it?
But hey, who cares, it’s football right?
Oh, and by the way, World Cup 2022 will take place in Qatar. Here are some interesting findings published by The Guardian: between a one month period in 2013, 44 migrant workers died “due to appalling labor conditions and abuses, and thousands more are trapped and exploited in what The Guardian calls a form of ‘modern-day slavery.'”
Let’s see…What else does the article say?
“Some Nepalese workers claim they haven’t been paid for months and that their employees retain their salaries as a way of preventing them from leaving. Workers’ passports and ID cards have also been withheld, which means that the workers can be considered illegal aliens by the authorities.”
“Work conditions within the Qatari construction industry — overcrowded sleeping areas, unsanitary hostels, and instances of penniless Nepalese forced to beg for food.”
But that’s eight years away. World Cup 2014 is now…
So when you turn on your TV (make sure it is a Sony), please be sure to be wearing your Adidas shoes, socks, shorts, shirts, wristbands, and headbands. And don’t forget to have your Cokes and your Budweisers to wash down your McDonalds while you watch. Oh, and put it all on your Visa card.
After all, you don’t want to disappoint the sponsors. 🙂