Saturday, January 21, 2012

This bud's for you, or maybe it isn't

Outside the United States soccer is the sport of the working class. Tales of violence at soccer matches around the world are legendary. Violence used to be a problem at soccer matches in Brazil. That is, until the government banned the sale of alcohol at soccer stadiums in 2003.

The measure seemed logical. Rowdy, passionate fans and alcohol don't make the best of combinations. The ban has had limited success since there is no ban on the consumption of alcohol outside the stadiums.

FIFA, the corrupt governing body of world soccer, awarded the 2014 World Cup to Brazil. But now there are problems.

The Brazilians wanted to set aside some discounted tickets for students and seniors. FIFA didn't like that idea as it would reduce the filthy lucre that Sepp Blatter and his cohorts can take back home to Europe. But the biggest dispute has to do with alcohol.

Budweiser, maker of piss water beer, is a big (shall we say huge) sponsor of the World Cup. And, as a major sponsor, carries a bit of weight. It seems that the folks out in St. Louis (or wherever the company is headquartered after its sale) aren't too terribly happy about the prospect of no alcohol sales at the stadiums across Brazil. And Mr. Blatter, always happy to get down on his knees and do the bidding of FIFA's sponsors,  has informed the Brazilian government that there will be beer sales at World Cup venues - Brazilian laws be damned.

Now once upon a time sport was just that - sport. Now it is a business and the actual sporting event is but a marketing device for any corporation that wishes to peddle its products to the viewers. It is beyond absurd that FIFA is demanding that the Brazilians serve alcohol at World Cup venues.

Now I understand the network and cable folks view sports as the ultimate reality show. I also know that there are quite a few universities that are more than happy to let the broadcasters tell them when and where to play. But that doesn't make it right.

I hope the Brazilian government holds its ground and refuses to sell out for a beermaker. But I'm also fairly certain that that is exactly what will happen. And what message does that send to the Brazilian people? And what message does that send to other multinational corporations who don't like the laws in a particular country?

FIFA and Budweiser knew the rules before the tournament was awarded to Brazil. They need to learn to live with it. After all, it's all about the (beautiful) game.

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