The football eyes of the world will be on Brazil in 2014. It is a country that lives and breathes football – treats it as a religion – and finally will host the World Cup for its second time and first since 1950. Aside from the spectacle, Brazil and its people are getting a raw deal. They are missing out on hundreds of millions of dollars (billions of reais) while poverty, housing, education and standard of living are compromised.
FIFA, the governing body of football seems to have a stranglehold on spending for the event, and are pseudo-running the government so to speak. Tax payers are paying for the event to go ahead effectively. FIFA are not paying a cent, or giving one back for that matter!
Once the world cup is over the nation will be left to clean up, and the population of taxpayers will keep paying, while FIFA would have left long ago with massive profits and having paid no tax on this profit. You see Brazil’s Congress had passed a bill which exempts FIFA from paying tax on profits in Brazil, and was a condition imposed by FIFA in awarding Brazil the right to host the event.
On top of it all it has been estimated that the cost of building the stadiums and getting the nation up-to-scratch is close to double what it did in South Africa only three years ago and close to triple the cost of Germany in 2006. It raises other question as to why the increase in spending? Are there commercial partners profiting? Have Brazilian companies been tendered to do the work or are they multinationals based elsewhere? Is the money staying in Brazil?
The reality is money FIFA’s imposed spending; that Brazil is spending could be better spent on infrastructure, schools, hospitals, basic necessities. Unfortunately FIFA will leave without providing a better tomorrow,
A big portion of the country still lives beneath the poverty line. There is crime related to poverty, education and to the pitfalls of not running a nation for all the people but the white collar and upper middle to high class.
Former Seleção footballer and one of the greatest goal scorers of all time, Romario, who is now in politics summed it up in a rant about FIFA recently in the press. He knows the hardship first hand as football allowed him to have a better life.
“FIFA is taking the p**s”. Romario said. He made mention of the lack of tax FIFA will pay saying “FIFA will make a profit of four billion reais which should provide one billion in tax, but they will not pay anything. They come, set up the circus, they don’t spend anything and they take everything with them.”
This act appears criminal itself as FIFA’s Swiss bank account will be well fed handsomely but the nation of Brazil,its people and their wellbeing will not. We are talking close to 500 million $USD leaving the Brazilian shores, so you can start to see the extent of the infliction on the country.
Addressing housing and putting a head over the less fortunate he said “The money spent on the Mane Garrincha stadium in Brasilia could be used to build 150,000 houses for low income families,”
Housing is a major problem and shortages affect a large majority of households earning less than minimum wage. Favela’s or shanty towns as we call them are large communities of substandard and makeshift living quarters. Mostly, many of their residents are caught in a vicious cycle as they work for very little and get taxed highly, barely able to provide for their families.
He also mentioned that the original budgets for the games, creating and updating stadiums, airports and general infrastructure were wrong. The practicality of spending so much money did not make sense.
FIFA also has a say on the ticket prices (yet to be released), allocations and most likely the ones who have put a hike on hotels that are currently unavailable during those months. The travelling world following their country to the ends of the world will be made to fork out astronomical figures. Literally ‘in the bag’ as they will pay it blindly, but this is not right!
As many fans inside the majestic Maracana stadium in Rio recently rejoiced the fantastic display of football and the win over Spain that gave the nation its third consecutive Confederations Cup, another that many Brazilians in many cities around the country attended supposedly peaceful rallies that turned ugly.
The instruction appeared for the police to turn on one and all in the same manner and with the same gusto that turned many of these rallies into a literal warzone. Rubber bullets, pepper spray and tear gas with police force was the order of the day. There were even reports that some fans in the stadium were affected by the tear gas.
But why did throughout the running of the Confederations Cup millions of demonstrators rally? Why were the protestors getting punished collectively rather than focussing on the one’s causing trouble? Why have the authorities been advised to come down so heavily y on the demonstrators?
No doubt for many it is an amazing place to live and economically it is a thriving place. There are however serious problems and the majority of the country is affected in one way or another. Organisers, the government and FIFA will fight to make the event run smoothly, something evident during the Confederations Cup. This is a chance to show the best of Brazil, to sell it and portray their best self to the world, but can you really hide the reality?
The evidence seems to show a double standard presented by FIFA. They promote a better world through football, and then seek to profit from it. This is their opportunity to make a difference, for example to leave funds behind that will help fund boarding schools for underprivileged children where they can get an education and learn football whilst having access to good nutrition and decent housing. Unfortunately FIFA is passing on that opportunity.
Brazil will aim to win the cup for their sixth time – far more than anyone else. The nation will forget their woes as they throw themselves into ecstasy and celebrate if they do win it. Second place is not an option; Think about that! What disaster that would follow.
Football will serve again to sooth the feeling in the short term, and put a smile on people’s faces, give them hope. The nation will again ultimately look for a long term answer.
Brazil by numbers:
– GDP (current US$) $2.477 trillion 2011
– GNI Per Capita 11,410 (current US$) 2011
– Population, Total 196.7 million 2011
– Poverty Rate 21% (although the poor segment makes up roughly 45% of population and 8.5% of population beneath the absolute poverty line)
– There is wide spread disparity in income levels amongst Brazilians.
– The richest 10% of Brazilians receiving 42.7% of the nation’s income, while the poorest 10% receive less than 1.2%
– Tax is a pro-rich system whereby those receiving less than minimum wage (678 Reais or $300USD/month approx) can be taxed up to 48%, whereas those earning high wages are taxed at a different bracket closer to 26%.
– Urban and Rural divide makes those in less populated areas have less access to good education, employment, emergency facilities
– Public education in Brazil is free at all levels. The standards of primary and secondary public education have been falling drastically. There is an illiteracy rate of 10.2% (Middle to upper class predominantly attend private school)
– Estimated 150,000 living in the Rocinha Favela –the famous hillside overlooking Rio. Housing shortages affect the majority of households earning less than minimum wage.
– Brazil is the 8th largest economy and has a positive outlook of 0.9% GDP