I think Brazil hosting the World Cup finals later this month is fantastic but it should not come at such a price.
Earlier this week I watched a documentary called ‘Welcome to Rio’.
The programme followed the lives of many of the men, women and children who live in the city’s favelas and who will most certainly not benefit from the fact that world’s biggest sporting event is being held in their back yard.
Thirty-two teams from every continent in the world will be represented at the competition later this month and the final will take place in the Estádio do Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro on July 13 but will any of those living in the favelas be able to attend? Probably not.
Brazil’s favelas are where the the extremely poor and working class people of the country live. The word live is totally subjective here because if people in Derry were forced to live the way the people in the favelas live there wouldn’t be enough pages in the ‘Derry Journal’ to fit all of the stories in.
The Brazilian government’s preparation for the World Cup has been nothing short of disgraceful. If this month’s big competition was to see which country is best at sweeping problems under the carpet then surely Brazil would be in with a shout of winning.
The government has sent in elite and highly trained military units to rid the favelas of drug dealers and prostitutes but the government is also guilty of tearing down the homes of people - simply to make the area more pleasing to the eye.
The World Cup is for four weeks but for millions of Brazilians, living in favelas is a day in day out experience. I am not for one moment suggesting the World Cup should be banned but if there is to ever be any hope for the world’s poor and working class there has to be morality shift within FIFA.
Commercialism has destroyed such events like the World Cup and the Olympics and instead of local food and drink businesses making a quick buck out of the competitions it will be the multi-billion dollar organisations like Budweiser and McDonald’s - yes, more money is just what Budweiser and McDonald’s need!
Meanwhile, the poor continue to become poorer and the rich get richer.
I am not on a crusade or anything like that but if competitions like the World Cup were not so biased in favour of the people with the deepest pockets then I wouldn’t be writing this column.
The people who should be benefiting from such a competition as the World Cup are the young children of Brazil.
They, after all, will be the players of tomorrow and they will provide the dreams of tomorrow so surely Brazil should be rewarding them today.
Many of the young boys and girls in Brazil’s favelas will not be able to afford the ridiculously over priced tickets for Brazil’s first game against Croatia. One website has tickets for the match starting at $1,292.45 - I don’t live in a favela and I couldn’t afford it so just imagine how utterly ignored, isolated and swept under the carpet the working class people of the country must feel.
Derry people kicked up a fuss during the City of Culture celebrations because some thought it lacked local investment. That pales into insignificance when you realise just how disgustingly commercial the whole World Cup competition is.