The guilt of watching the World Cup & England’s exit


So far the 2014 World Cup in Brazil has been very enjoyable. The majority of games have been excellent with the Germany v Ghana, Spain v Netherlands, Chile v Spain, Italy v Costa Rica one of many games that have stood out so far.  It is also looks like a open World Cup in terms of who will eventually win the competition.

There is however a feeling of guilt about watching this World Cup and that’s mainly down to the shenanigans of FIFA and the money that has been spent by the Brazilian Government with critics describing it as ‘the biggest theft in history.’ The real cost of the World Cup, critics claim is more close to $46 billion US dollars. The celebrated ex-footballer, Romario who is now a politician wants a deeper investigation into the misuse of public funds.

A lot of Brazilians believe that the money would be better spent on public services such as health and education rather than the large white elephant stadiums that will be hardly used once the World Cup has left town.

Protests broke out last year during the World Cup rehearsal of the Confederates Cup over the increase fees of using public transport. Many felt it was an excuse to make people pay for the increasing costs of holding the event. The protests gathered momentum with an estimated 250,000 protestors of various cities taking to the streets.

It also led to the surreal sight of a football match being played whilst outside the stadium Police were firing teargas and rubber bullets at protestors.

Even now whilst the World Cup is being played there have been protests in Porte Alegre and Sao Paulo some which saw Police clashing with protestors and being accused of being heavy handed. Again teargas and rubber bullets were used.

On Wednesday the 18th June there was a demonstration of 400 to 500 teachers f Rio de Janeiro. Dave Zirin author of ‘Brazil’s dance with the devil,’ in a interview with Democracy Now stated ‘They were also protesting for their co-workers who went on strike in protest against FIFA and the World Cup priorities, saying, “We want FIFA-quality schools.” Their co-workers who went on strike were actually fired, which is a violation of Brazilian law. So 500 teachers were marching behind a banner that said, “FIFA, go home!” demanding that their co-workers actually be rehired.’

This incidentally is one of the accusations against FIFA in terms of acting like a mafia state. For starters they have been granted a special law meaning that FIFA and its official partners are given tax exemption up to a estimated tune of $250 million dollars.  Only official traders are allowed to sell products around stadiums. All other street sellers are excluded and will be moved on by Police if necessary.

The sale of alcohol is normally prohibited within Brazilian stadiums but because one of their main sponsors is Budweiser this law has been waived. Brazil will also assume civil liability on behalf of FIFA which contravenes its own constitution on this issue.

Homes have also been torn down and people displaced without being adequately compensated or having anywhere else to go in order for stadiums and infrastructure to be built.

Workers and human rights is something that FIFA seem to overlook. Take Qatar for example. Aside from the allegations of bribery, Qatar has one of the worst human rights records in the world. Indeed the US has expressed its concern and downgraded the country due to its poor record.

The Guardian newspaper amongst others have reported how migrant workers are treated like slaves. Harsh conditions, pay denied, and even being denied to leave the country.  FIFA though appear to turn a blind eye to all this and that’s before we get to the fact that the hot weather in June and July would make any match unplayable whilst Qatar is hardly a hotbed of football.

FIFA in short has more than a strong whiff of dishonesty about it. Furthermore it acts like a medieval fiefdom as they run roughshod over laws and squeals furiously if anyone dares questions its activities. On top of which for a non-profit organisation I quite like Jon Oliver’s quote on Last week tonight ‘A reserve of a billion dollars? When your rainy day is so big you’ve got to check it for swimming cartoon ducks, you might not be a non-profit anymore.’


Yet despite all this I will still be watching the World Cup. Part of me doesn’t want to because of FIFA and the reasons why Brazilians are protesting. However like a junkie I’ll still be tuning for my next fix.

England crash out

Inevitable there will be the usual post mortems about England’s display in the World Cup as they crash out after losing to Italy and Uruguay. Much will be written about foreign players stifling English talent as part of the problem.

Even if the FA was able to impose quotas on English clubs all it would do is dilute the quality of the teams. The same problems would still arise in terms of the quality of English players.

If you’re looking at other countries such as the Netherlands, Spain, Uruguay, and Germany they all look at football differently. To them the key element is about passing. It’s about seeing and moving into space to pass or receive the ball. Furthermore the technique on the ball is largely better than England.

Part of the problem is still the mentality of ‘showing heart,’ by running around without actually thinking about why you’re moving there or looking to create. The physical attributes of the game is still largely lauded. For example a player will get a bigger cheer for slide tackling into someone rather than a player showing a bit of skill.

Defensively England was not that great. Cahill and Jagielka are not international class. The pair are both slow and ponderous who are unable of carrying or passing the ball out. Suarez easily evaded Cahill who managed to break the most basic of defending by allowing Suarez ahead of him.

Time is something that has always been constantly preached but until you change the mentality were technique and passing should be the main elements of your game over running your heart out then nothing will change.

B. Benjamin




Author: Brian Benjamin

I love football and will watch any game. Writing is also a passion of mine and apart from writing about football I have also tried my hand at short stories in my spare time.

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