The 2013 Confederations Cup will be remembered for the good football that is being played on the field as well as for the football protests of thousands of Brazilian fans across the country who disapprove of the big money that the government is spending to host the 2014 World Cup. .

These protests evoke memories of Occupy Wall Street and the Arab Spring in 2011, except that in the case of the former the protests were non-violent and in the latter case they were directed at one person.

The usual protests in Brazil concern the most marginalized groups, such as indigenous peoples and inhabitants of the favelas, dispossessed in the name of development, losing land, houses, livelihoods and lives while making private fortunes.

President Dilma Rousseff is very popular with the poor, but the soccer protests are led by a different class: the traditional middle class. In the streets, educated people from central urban areas shout that they have been sold a lie.

While television shows expensive and luxurious soccer stadium openings, people felt their lives worsening by the day, while outsiders like the International Federation of Associated Soccer (FIFA) came in and lined their pockets at their expense.

A look at the economics of the World Cup shows that the protesters have a valid point.

Next summer Brazil will host the World Cup, a month-long national tournament to crown the soccer champion. The World Cup will cost the nation $ 15 billion and the promised legacy of infrastructure development is nowhere to be seen (Broken promises and corruption fuels Brazil’s protests, by Rogerio Simoes, CNN, June 2) .

Countries spend large amounts of money to participate in the bidding process to host the World Cup. The idea that the World Cup will provide an economic bonanza for the host country is illusory in the case of developing countries.

FIFA demands the host country, but does not offer any real support in return.

South Africa 2010

At the World Cup in South Africa, FIFA earned more than $ 3 ½ billion from television and other World Cup-related rights. South Africa had to pay all the costs (estimated at $ 4.1 billion) to build stadiums, hotels, and other local infrastructure.

22,000 jobs were created, but they were only temporary contract jobs and the new infrastructure was idle after the World Cup, as ticket revenues could not offset maintenance costs that fell on local municipalities with liquidity problems they don’t need a state-of-the-art stadium (The World Cup: How FIFA Profits While Host Countries Lose Big, by Presidio Economics, November 17, 2011).

Brazil 2014

Professor Chris Gaffney from the Universidade Federal Fluminese in Brazil has predicted that Brazil will experience the same pain.

Renovation and construction costs for 12 stadiums are already above budget. The renovation of the Maracana, the mecca of modern soccer, will cost $ 600 million and even if balanced with the expected revenue, each spectator will spend $ 1000 per game, which will cost the majority of Brazilian fans.

Airports and hotels will be improved or built and, along with transportation costs that were initially to be financed with private funds, have incurred excessive costs and will be placed on the shoulders of taxpayers (The World Cup: How the FIFA, etc.).

Unequal distribution of benefits

All South African teams got $ 9 million for participating ($ 1 million as a contribution to setup costs and $ 8 million even if they were eliminated in the group stage (FIFA World Cup 2010 – Money Makes The World Cup Go Round, by Swiss Rambler, June 16, 2010, Bleacher Report).

Given that 32 countries participate in the final and half of the seats are reserved for Europe, it means that half of this revenue or $ 144 million went to the richest continent and the other 5 Confederations had to settle for the rest. In effect, wealth is redistributed from poor countries to rich ones. It’s no wonder European clubs can buy Cristiano Ronaldo for $ 131 million, 21-year-old Neymar for $ 75 million and pay Carlos Tevez $ 400,000 a week (after taxes).

Under FIFA’s bidding system, the choice of the World Cup venue depends on which country is willing to shell out the most money.

England, a nation with many well-established soccer stadiums, ran for the 2018 World Cup. They finished last in the vote losing to a Russian offer that included plans for at least 9 new facilities.

The United States was thought to be the favorite for the 2022 Cup with proposals that included only stadiums already installed, some essentially new. But Quatar was chosen as the host with a plan that included the construction of 9 new stadiums with the added costs of having to cool down due to extreme temperatures in the Middle East.

What should FIFA do

Unless FIFA reforms the way it organizes and runs the World Cup, the protests will not go away and will follow the event wherever it goes.

Therefore, you should do the following:

First of all, you should stop choosing venues based on who can distribute the most money and award the World Cup to the country that offers the greatest potential for game development. Countries like India and regions like Central America and the Caribbean come to mind where there is a great passion for the game but they lack the required initial outlay.

Second, FIFA should reimburse the host country for at least half of its preparation costs and join that county to invest in infrastructure that will provide permanent benefits for the locals. This would help FIFA meet its stated goal of bringing the World Cup to areas where there is a passion for the game but in need of development.

Finally, the number of places reserved for European countries should be reduced. In football terms, they don’t deserve even half the places. This change would also help rectify some of the inequalities in the distribution of profits and make the event more attractive to potential host countries.

Victor A Dixon
June 27, 2013

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