Sunday, July 13 at 1:30pm
Commercial-Broadway Station
Vancouver

As people around the world are gearing up their excitement for the World Cup Final on Sunday, Brazilians—known usually to be the most excited of all about soccer—are not so cheery this time, as their country has been devastated by corruption, egregious government spending, forced evictions, and brutal crackdowns on those who dare to protest. As Brazilians have taken it to the streets, with slogans like “World Cup for whom?”, “Fifa go home”, and “Na Copa vai ter luta”, we must stand in solidarity with them and take it to the streets too!

So what exactly is so bad about the World Cup this year?

Over a quarter million people have been evicted from their homes to make way for World Cup related structures, including roads and other facilities. In many cases, families were offered little or no compensation for the houses they left behind and given no more than five days to evacuate, leaving the elderly and children alike with nowhere to sleep but the rough pavement beneath them. The homeless have had to set up ‘shantytowns’—tent cities—on the edges of Porto Alegre, Rio De Janeiro and Sao Paulo. Even for those that weren’t evicted directly, rent has gone up by hundreds of dollars, making it impossible for many to stay in their homes.

Furthermore, the government of Brazil has spent over $11 billion dollars getting ready for the Cup, including $270 million on Mineirão, a stadium in the middle of nowhere that will only be used for the four world cup games and could have paid for the building of 200 schools. The revenue from the games doesn’t even go to Brazil—it goes to FIFA, an organization that is also completely exempt from all taxes levied in the country. Brazil estimates that they are going to lose $250 million just from the levied taxes.

Also of concern is FIFA itself, a terribly corrupt organization. For example, in 2003 the Brazilian government instituted a law banning alcohol from stadiums, because they were concerned about the outrageously high death rates among fans. Because Budweiser is one of FIFA’s sponsors, FIFA pressured the Brazilian government to pass a “Budweiser bill”, allowing the sale of beer in soccer stadiums. “Maybe I look a bit arrogant but, that’s something we will not negotiate,” said the FIFA Secretary General. “I mean, there will be and there must be as part of the law the fact that we have the right to sell beer.”

Some may remember when FIFA was in South Africa, when they created 56 “FIFA World Cup Courts” with the government’s approval. Two Zimbabweans robbed a foreign journalist on one Wednesday, were arrested by FIFA on Thursday, and then began 15-year jail sentences on Friday. The number of corruption scandals that FIFA has faced, including the suspension of two inner executives on corruption charges, should put the validity of their courts in question. Even the president of FIFA has said that women should “have tighter shorts” and “play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball” to make women’s soccer more popular.

The conditions under which workers have made the World Cup possible are also horrendous. Eight workers have died in the building of stadiums, and many of those that are alive have had to repeatedly work 12 hours shifts and give up their holidays to make the stadiums ready in time. “Working 84 hours a week is a clear violation of labour laws. It is clearly not acceptable,” said Jin Sook Lee, a representative from the Building and Woodworkers International (BWI).

On July 3rd, an unfinished overpass collapsed in the world cup hosting city of Belo Horizonte, killing at least one person and injuring 19. The bridge ran over one of the main paths connecting the international airport to the stadium, part of a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) that was promised to be ready for the World Cup. “This is the incompetence of our authorities and our businesses,” said Leandro Brito, a bank worker. “Because of the World Cup they sped everything up to finish faster. That’s why this tragedy has happened. They are not making things properly. Everyone is very angry.”

Also shocking is the call for patriotism from the government and the Brazilian elite, asking the masses not to denounce this charade and not to demand any improvement of their conditions of life and work. According to them, the whole country must unite behind the national team and shows pride in the “development” driven by the World Cup. Those that disagree with the government’s message—and who have made their thoughts public by marching on the streets—have been brutally assaulted with tear gas and rubber bullets.

Polls show that the majority of Brazilians do not have a positive attitude towards the Cup—and for good reason. In the words of Maria do Socorro, from a small slum in Rio de Janeiro, “If Brazil wins, I won’t even be happy, only sad, fighting not to be removed from where I live.”

Down with FIFA! Solidarity to the Brazilian people!

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