As if the rampant corruption in international soccer isn't enough to get folks to sit up and take notice of how money greases FIFA's skids, yesterday I ran across this article on ESPN about the 1978 World Cup in Argentina.
In 1976 the military staged a coup in the midst of the chaos of clashes between leftist guerillas and right-wing paramilitaries. Much of the populace welcomed the coup at first - until they realized the terror and repression that would follow. The 1978 World Cup was used by the military junta to justify their reign of terror. To this day there are many in Argentina who would rather forget about the national team's triumph in 1978.
While the World Cup was being played on pitches across the country, thousands of political dissidents, leftists, trade unionists and activists for the poor were kidnapped and placed in secret prisons where they were tortured and killed. There are thousands of people across the country who don't even know who there parents were because the military killed their parents and gave the babies to colleagues.
Meanwhile, in Sao Paolo, striking subway workers in have threatened to continue their strike through the rest of the week - which would provide some serious headaches for World Cup organizers and fans. In response, local police turned against the striking workers firing tear gas in an attempt to break up the protest.
The government controlled subway operator announced that some 60 of the striking workers had been fired. And this from a socialist-leaning government. So much for the workers of the world speech - now it's all about the filthy lucre from large multi-national sponsors.
Finally, here are a few problems FIFA, the Brazilian government and international broadcasters would rather you not take notice of. But, hey, it's just a game, right?