Such headlines – or variations on them – appeared in British newspapers yesterday, usually side–by-side. And no doubt there will be yet more joy and yet more riots in Brazil as FIFA’s grossly inflated, irresponsible, self-aggrandizing jamboree rolls on to its conclusion.
This, we must all hope, for reasons entirely unrelated to national pride, will be a victory for the host team. Joy may then overwhelm, or supplant, the violence in the streets. If, on the other hand,
The rioters have more of a point to make than the revellers.
The government has chosen to invest billions of dollars not in slum clearance and social infrastructure but in staging the world’s biggest sporting tournaments, the football World Cup this year and the Olympics in three years time. These will bring great wealth to the country, or so the government insists. But all governments say that. History suggests that nothing is further from the truth than the notion of a great golden goose always leaving behind a large golden egg. What the golden goose usually leaves behind is a soiled, uninhabitable nest.
Most host cities in recent times have been left with Olympic sites which, far from being adapted to use by the people, have been allowed to fall into dereliction.
And so, when FIFA’s tawdry show is over, Sepp Blatter and his fat-cat, pocket-picking cronies will board their planes home to cash in their winnings – as they did after the last tournament in
These sporting events are already out of hand financially and every other wise and the momentum can’t be stopped. Each successive jamboree has to out-do the previous one in terms of showing off, which also means in terms of expense. And beneath all the razzamatazz, the desperate absurdity of opening ceremonies led by Jennifer Lopez – under-dressed but arguably over-rated and inarguably over-paid – tawdry is the first pejorative that comes to mind, among a host of others.
Even the football takes a seat on the bench. As I write, the authorities are struggling to make the stadia ready for matches scheduled to be played within days. For the England-Italy fixture on Saturday, groundskeepers are still trying to figure out how to make the grass grow. I heard somewhere that they may have to resort to painting the brown bits green.
There are other brown bits that ought to be painted green – the green of billions of dollars going into alleviating the plight of
And then the circus will move on to
For now, anyway.