Round 1 of the FIFA World Cup

As I start writing this, I notice that Siddharth Sharma, who many of you know better as Bubba is drafting two articles. What is more shocking is that they are at the same time. The world is going to end soon. Bubba’s competence, a trait as lost as his ability to hustle and defend on the basketball court is well documented. But we distract ourselves.

In the backdrop of political protests at the shambolic manner in which spending has taken place by the Brazilian government has spent for the current world cup, the event got off to a rather bizarre start with Pitbull attempting to set the record for the person who is simultaneously the worst dressed and worst singer on the planet. Jennifer Lopez did… I don’t know what. But let’s move past this. It is not worthy of blogspace.

Brazil has constructed or repaired 12 stadiums for the World Cup. The ostensible reason provided for such expenditure is the economic growth and Brazil’s Minister for Sport says that the World Cup will boost the economy by about 90 Billion USD. There is further claim that about 3.5 Million jobs will be created in the short term and the long term. Tourism alone is seen to generate close to 3 Billion USD. And all this in a country, where football is religion. This is the perfect story. Not even Republicans or Somnath Bharti or the Akhilesh Yadav govt. with the enlightening views on rape could ruin this.

However, the Brazilian govt. has done its best to channel the ghost of UPA II (presumably when a bunch of UPA ministers went on their junkets and imparted political expertise) and is accused of the following –

  • Skewing the independent findings much like the Big Oil companies and showing inflated projections of ostensible gain
  • Widespread corruption in the cost for each stadium and the building rights being allocated where stadiums were allotted and built at thrice the initially projected prices
  • Doing its best to act as the trailer to the snuff film on workers in Qatar by killing at least 1 worker per week or so. Ok, this one is a very rough estimate.

And in doing all of this, they have managed to turn a country that adores football into one that hates the ultimate celebration of the same. Or what should be the ultimate celebration until Sepp Blatter’s FIFA got their hands on it. Sepp Blatter runs FIFA like a fiefdom only with rounded means of gaining economic benefit. This is a seemingly non-profit organization with a Billion dollars in its account which it claims as a rainy day fund and what is more it takes the lion’s share of all world cup profits. So, in essence, Brazil spends a shitload of money on building stadiums and other peripherals for FIFA to take the lion’s share. Some stadiums like Manaus will probably never be used again. Manaus is a town with no football team and is almost inaccessible by road. They built a stadium that cost 200 Million USD for 4 matches essentially. Did I forget the corruption here? No wonder, people are pissed. For more, please do yourself a favour and watch John Oliver’s piece on FIFA that he did on last week’s Last Week Tonight. Please do this. It is an enriching experience.

By the way, Sepp Blatter has since given a speech where he claims he wants to take football to other planets. Mental. And another one where he accused of the entire world’s media being racist against Qatar for bringing up bribery, bid rigging and corruption allegations in the awarding of the 2022 World Cup.

This piece was not meant to be about the inept Brazilian government taking its people for a ride. In good conscience, it is difficult for me to not mention all of this while I watch a game that I love being destroyed, its very soul extracted by men (and very very few women) who are pioneering destruction through a monopolistic domination over a game that they do not understand and whose very essence is beyond their comprehension. I cannot simply begin with my analysis of several good games without alluding to the above. This present time seems to be a historic time. A number of countries have seen their middle class rise up to varying degrees. Some have voted out the party in power. Others have made their displeasure known by either protesting and in some cases getting violent. Whether this is a trend that persists or not remains to be seen but the fight against corruption is becoming more global. It is not limited to merely those nations that are seen as developing. This is more of a movement of an entire class of people based on their respective economic positions and aspirations and their fight against the part of the population that profits from keeping them below a glass ceiling. The people, it seems, have woken. (I hope that made you proud, Karl.) However, structures like FIFA will continue to prevail because of the entrenched power structures and the lack of willingness of those in power to do anything about the same.

I realize that my piece is titled Round 1 of the FIFA World Cup but I really don’t have it in me to describe and analyze the many games that I was going to in this piece. Both the above rant and the football (FIFA is most minimal when the game is actually played for the 90 minutes) deserve separate pieces. So I will wait to calm down before I really do what Samith asked me to do. Sorry Sam, this rant I did not see coming with so much bile. Bile that is very much warranted though. Damn you Sepp Blatter for attempting to tarnish the game that I love. BCCI already destroyed cricket. Someone needs to save football.

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