Only hours before the start of the greatest football tournament in the world Brazil is in turmoil. The host nation is rife with riots and protests against a government that has put more money in to the World Cup than residents want to imagine. Where does the fault lie? In a government that wanted to host the World Cup or the governing body of football that ratified the decision?
It is evident in many sports that governing bodies and sponsors are becoming ever distant from the people. This is a great shame as fans are the people who make sports truly great. When South Africa were awarded the World Cup the continent rejoiced; the first African country to host the greatest spectacle on Earth. Soon we saw the extent to which South Africa had to prostitute itself so that stadia and adequate public transport were put in place. As a result South Africa are still bearing the brunt of a $2 billion cost of upgrading and implementing infrastructure. South Africa plays a perfect foil to the previous World Cup location in financially secure Germany. With next to no middle class in the country the new facilities are out of the price range of most citizens. The government must find it impossible to recoup these disastrous debts from taxes as the upper and middle class are very much in the minority in South Africa.
On the other hand FIFA walked away from South Africa with a cool $2,357 million.
“The 2010 FIFA World Cup™ generated total revenue of USD 3,655 million for FIFA
(excluding ticketing revenue) and incurred total expenses of USD 1,298 million.”
FIFA Financial Report 2010.
Brazil could take many lessons from 2010. Already huge amounts of money have been poured in to the transport networks and stadia. As a result this has caused outrage for citizens who feel the money could have been better spent on schools and job creation. FIFA must take more responsibility to make sure that the countries applying to host the tournament can actually afford it. South Africa couldn’t afford it, Brazil don’t want it, Russia is partaking in a civil war in another country and Qatar is under investigation. FIFA have caused serious and blatant grievances in what they say is a time to bring football to new frontiers. If they are to repair their already tarnished reputation they must act more transparently and responsibly in deciding where the month-long football celebration will be held.
When the dust settles from this tournament and Rio opens for business next year what will we see? Will it be a country ravaged by the World Cup juggernaut only to go to round two with the Olympics the following year, or a country that has prospered and gone from strength to strength? As I sit down to watch the World Cup I don’t look forward to it with the usual excitement. It feels hollow, like the World Cup is already over before a ball has ever been kicked.