The Dark Side of the World Cup
Oh the joy, the adrenaline, the ecstasy of that last minute goal! You’re at a bar or at your house watching the World Cup from a fifty inch plasma TV. What you don’t realize is that thousands of miles away outside that very stadium in Rio de Janeiro there are thousands of families evicted from their homes with barely any shelter thanks to the matches you’re enjoying.
Let’s go back in time seven years ago for a moment, shall we? It’s 2007 and Brazil has been awarded the honor of hosting the 2014 World Cup — something any nation can be envious of. At that time, Brazilian President Lula had promised massive investments in infrastructure and transportation, among other things for the World Cup, that would make the country more “modern.” As of this moment, only 30% of those investments have actually been successful. Something quite humiliating taking in to consideration that Brazil is among the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China), economic powerhouses that will dominate the future.
Yet, according to Brazilian officials, the World Cup is expected to create thousands of jobs in the tourism industry, helping the country grow $70 billion. A decent boost to the Brazilian economy, but that’s only a short-term result. Just ask South Africa how it’s doing after its World Cup and the long term economic progress it has made thanks to the tournament.
Brazil has built and renovated beautiful stadiums for the month-long tournament. Four of those wonderful stadiums have been built in cities where only third-tier teams exist, which makes it almost impossible to actually make any money off of them. Also, most of them are not yet even fully finished. Seriously? Brazil had seven years to get it together.
Many workers have died as a result of unsafe working conditions while building the aforementioned stadiums. What’s extra infuriating is that FIFA nor Brazilian officials have given even a moment of silence to commemorate those that died for the World Cup.
Days before the World Cup began, subway workers created chaos by continuing to go on strike to demand higher wages. A reasonable demand, considering the growing inequality within the country and the $14.6 billion investment on infrastructure only for the World Cup — money that could have been invested in schools and hospitals. Yet, the Brazilian government responded in kind by declaring that for each day that the strike continues, the workers union would be fined $220,000. Awesome right? Screw worker’s rights — nobody needs that.
Five thousand families have been evicted from their homes because the World Cup has caused the price of rent in Sao Paulo to rise, resulting in something of a tent city just outside the Sao Paulo stadium. Another 19,000 families have been displaced all over the country in order to make roads, stadiums and athletes villages. Of course, the government gives these people a pittance, but it’s still not enough to cover the expensive rent some have to pay.
It’s South America. There’s always corruption, but this time around it’s more disgusting than usual. According to AP, “there are at least a dozen separate federal investigations into World Cup spending.” Oh, and 40% of Brazilian congressmen have criminal cases pending against them, according to Focus on Congress.
Hold on — it gets juicier. According to The Washington Post, “Andrade Gutierrez, the construction conglomerate that’s been awarded stakes in contracts that total about one-fourth of the World Cup’s $11.5 billion price tag contributed $73,180 to 2008′s municipal elections, the AP reports. In 2012, after it was known which cities would host the World Cup, the company’s political contributions soared to $37.1 million.”
Now, while you take a sip of that Blue Moon waiting for the next game to start, I truly do hope you enjoy the game but don’t forget about all of the homeless families that have suffered because FIFA and Brazilian officials were incapable of doing their jobs right, nor the kids that will grow up without a dad because rubble crushed them while building a stadium that probably won’t be used ever again after July.