To celebrate or not to celebrate?
That is the question...
Over the next few weeks, during the football (soccer) World Cup, I am going to be writing about Portugal as part of a series hosted by MKB aiming to show the world to children (and adults) through the World Cup. This is a great initiative and a global competition like this is a great tool to learn about different cultures and about geography. However, unfortunately, the World Cup has now also become synonymous with corruption, social unrest, demonstrations and even worse (deaths). I am therefore in two minds about celebrating it and wanted to share my concerns here before I embark on this journey.
Brazilians are fighting for money to be spent on hospitals and basic social care while FIFA (the International Football Association) is asking the Brazilian government to spend more on stadiums and things it can/could do without. People are being evicted from favelas to make way for tourists and to 'clean up' the cities. But where do they end up? No arrangement is being made for them.
This has gone beyond a few protests about money being spent in the wrong places. People are being arrested before they have even done anything, because of the fears over demonstrations.
Yes, tourists will bring money but the average Brazilian is not really going to get anything out of all this. Most of them cannot afford basic necessities, let alone tickets for the competition (just as it was the case in South Africa for the previous cup).
Here are two interesting videos about why some people are demonstrating in Brazil. Make what you want of them but they explain some of the issues better than I can.
Brazil is a country with such a festive mood (and that is not just a cliché) and who loves football that the efforts of a growing minority to stop the World Cup cannot be ignored.
FIFA and its workings are mostly to blame for this. For example, huge corporations are getting tax exemptions when of course, the money they should be paying would greatly benefit the host country. Corruption is rife amongst the organisation and that is nothing new. (If you are interested in these issues, I recommend following Andrew Jennings on Twitter). Yet, its effects are being felt more than ever today.
I am really not saying we should all boycott the World Cup as this would just probably be even worse for the country as many Brazilians have already paid for the stadiums and other infrastructure with their taxes. But please bare in mind what is going on while watching the next football match (with your children).