Monday, June 9, 2014

World cup of corruption

We are now just days away from the opening match of the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament in Brazil. But attention has been drawn away from the matches because of the rampant corruption that takes place behind the curtains erected by FIFA - the governing body of world soccer.

In Brazil the government spent millions of dollars on soccer stadiums and infrastructure instead of spending it on education and poverty eradication. Protesters have taken to the streets in recent weeks to denounce the government's choice of priorities. Even Pele, the world's most famous soccer player (who was also an apologist for the right-wing military dictatorship that ran Brazil until the 1980's) has railed against the government's misplaced priorities.

Meanwhile the 2022 tournament, awarded to Qatar, is awash in controversy over backroom deals and corruption that led FIFA to award the tournament to nation with no soccer history (and one in which temperatures during the summer get well into triple digits). The Qatari government is also having to answer questions about hundreds of foreign workers who have died during the construction of the stadiums and associated infrastructure.

This past week three major World Cup sponsors - Adidas, VISA and Sony - issued a statement outlining their concerns about the goings-on with FIFA. While the sponsors may have some questions about the way in which FIFA operates, it is unlikely that they would raise too much of a stink because of the untold millions of dollars each pockets for its role in the tournament.

So, while you enjoy the soccer on the pitch, don't turn a blind eye to the price of corruption that lies just beyond the stands. Many will suffer for the benefit of a few people who will pocket a share of the billions of dollars the World Cup generates. Soccer may be called the beautiful game - but it's really nothing more than a cesspool of corruption and exploitation.

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