12 March 2012

World Cup 2014

It's very likely that few people outside of Brazil are following, or even care much about, the details of the recent dust-up between the Brazilian government and FIFA (the International Federation of Association Football), but we're following it and it's not pretty. As the country chosen to host the next World Cup of soccer in 2014, Brazil has enjoyed a substantial boost to its self-image and expects to enjoy an even more substantial boost to its economy. But relations between Brazil and FIFA have been tense for some time now, and are worsening by the day. We're in the middle of a schoolyard fight with no adult supervisors in sight.

Just last week FIFA's general secretary, Jérôme Valcke, complained that Brazil needed to — in his original French words — "se donner un coup de pied aux fesses," or give itself a kick in the ass, to speed up the pace of its World Cup preparations. One could understand that as just a friendly "egging on" to urge Brazil to get those stadiums, hotels and airports built in time. But by the time the statement crossed the Atlantic, it had taken a turn. Brazil, it was said in Portuguese, needed to "levar um pontapé no traseiro," or get a kick in the ass. Gone was the reflexive, "give itself." Now Brazil needed to "get" a kick from some outside party to set it straight. An unfortunate translation.

Valcke believes he said this

Brazil believes he said this

Beer and soccer, a FIFA dream
But I'm not defending FIFA here, because however the statement was translated, the truth is that it had very little to do with whether or not Brazil is behind schedule. FIFA's own report last January congratulated Brazil for being within schedule. So what's going on? It's all about money. Big money. Huge profits. Greed. It has to do with the approval by the Brazilian Congress of something called the Lei Geral da Copa (the General World Cup Law). In one corner stands Brazil, a sovereign nation, with a federal law that prohibits the sale of alcoholic beverages in sports stadiums.  Brazil thinks that's a good law, and they want to keep it that way. In the opposing corner stands a big, powerful FIFA sponsor: Budweiser, the King of Beers. They want the law changed. Jérôme Valcke's job is to see that the Lei Geral da Copa is passed, releasing the sale of  beer, thereby insuring FIFA's continued profits.

Valcke commemorating. "Caipirinha anyone? 
Over the last six months the approval of this law met with strong resistance. Voting on it has been delayed several times. As of this writing, it does look as if it will squeak through the Brazilian Congress, with Brazil caving in to the beer interests. As for another Brazilian law in FIFA's greedy sights, that of half-price tickets for people over 60 years of age (which FIFA doesn't want) it looks as if Brazil will hold firm. I think it's all very unfortunate. Drunken drivers leaving a stadium after a game are infinitely more dangerous to the public than a few indignant old codgers.


  1. "As the country chosen to host the next World Cup of soccer in 2014, Brazil has enjoyed a substantial boost to its self-image and expects to enjoy an even more substantial boost to its economy."

    Isn't it funny how things can go dramatically wrong? When the world cup finally came, there was so much incomplete, the people were again so embarrassed about world cup related corruption scandals and inefficiencies, there were crowds in the streets demanding the wrong things, and here we are experiencing one of the worst recessions we ever had, if not the worst. I wonder where we would be now without the so called boost to our economy.

    I remember it being said that the world cup would have a long lasting impact. They weren't wrong about that one. At least here in Porto Alegre where I live, there are a few preparations being done for the world cup yet: streets, hotels... I think they will be worked for a while until they get done. Long lasting impact indeed!

    What about our self image now? We feel we had our money stolen and wasted again. And not even the end of the game was fun. 7 X 1!!!


    1. Just to try and lighten things, here's something I read about a year ago: "O FBI inicia investigações sobre a Copa do Mundo e encontra mais dois gols da Alemanha."
      Don't know whether to laugh or cry!

    2. Haha. Brilliant!