World Cup for Whom?


According to Leonardo Dupin on journalist Juca Kfouri’s blog, Minas Arena consortium will have the right to operate the Minerao soccer stadium in Belo horizonte for 25 years, after their investment of about $300 million, $180 million of which was kindly lent by Brazil’s state development bank, BNDES. The agreement guarantees that the government of the state of Minas Gerais will cover any losses in their business up to $1.7 million. In 2013, the consortium had losses every month of the year and the state footed the bill, giving them over 20 million dollars to secure corporate profits.

The government is generally not as straightforward in trying to protect corporations from losses. It seems that this time, the state didn’t try to be very roundabout and just funneled money directly from the pockets of the tax-paying poor to those of the tax-eating rich.

The consortiums that control other World Cup stadiums have similar sweetheart deals, with “investment” money generously coming from BNDES, the largest tool of upward wealth transfer in Brazil. President Dilma Rousseff appears frequently on TV to assure us that the total spent on stadiums was “only” $4 billion, whereas total overall is around $11.5 billion, most of which should actually be “recouped” by the public, because they were “loans.”

Rouseff forgot to account for subsidies and concession contracts. She also forgot to account for evictions and urban make-up projects intended to hide our poor from fearful tourists. Not to mention the cost of the police state that has wreaked havoc since the World Cup and the Olympics were announced to be held in Brazil.

We’re less than a month from the World Cup and yet we see few flags hanging from windows, few paintings of the tournament’s mascot on walls. The announcement of the national team was met with little anticipation or surprise, and very little positive speech is heard about the championship at all.

Protests and criticisms have abounded, however, culminating on May 15 in the International Day of World Cup Resistance (15M). People took to the streets in many Brazilian capitals, accompanied by teachers, public transportation workers and, in Pernambuco, police strikes. Also worthy of note was the manifestation of the Homeless Workers Movement (MTST), comprised of people who have the biggest reasons to complain: The World Cup caps off a model of urban development that evicts the poor from the city centers and pushes the value of their labor even lower.

The government, as always, tries to paint the Worker’s Party (PT) administration as the halcyon days of neverending development, but the honeymoon is over. No matter who conquers the World Cup, the real winner is corporate capitalism.

Nothing illustrates this better than the gentrification of Maracana stadium, once a hub for the people, but now a place attended exclusively by the elite, where fans are supposed to watch the game sitting down, taking off your jersey is forbidden, fireworks are “unsafe” and the flags you take are strictly regulated according to FIFA’s rulebook. If not even soccer is like we used to do it, we can only ask the biggest question from 15M: World Cup for whom?

Erick Vasconcelos is a contributing author at the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org).

Weekend Edition
November 27-29, 2015
Andrew Levine
The Real Trouble With Bernie
Gary Leupp
Ben Carson, Joseph in Egypt, and the Attack on Rational Thought
John Whitbeck
Who’s Afraid of ISIS?
Michael Brenner
Europe’s Crisis: Terror, Refugees and Impotence
Pepe Escobar
Will Chess, Not Battleship, Be the Game of the Future in Eurasia?
Vijay Prashad
Showdown on the Syrian Border
Colin Todhunter
Class, War and David Cameron
Jean Bricmont
The Ideology of Humanitarian Imperialism
Dan Glazebrook
Deadliest Terror in the World: the West’s Latest Gift to Africa
Mats Svensson
Madness in Hebron: Hashem Had No Enemies, Yet Hashem Was Hated
Walter Brasch
Terrorism on American Soil
Louisa Willcox
Grizzly Bears, Dreaming and the Frontier of Wonder
Dave Lindorff
Gen. John Campbell, Commander in Afghanistan and Serial Liar
Michael Welton
Yahweh is Not Exactly Politically Correct
Joseph Natoli
A Politics of Stupid and How to Leave It Behind
Karl Grossman
Our Solar Bonanza!
John Cox
You Should Fear Racism and Xenophobia, Not Syrian Refugees or Muslims
Barrie Gilbert
Sacrificing the Grizzlies of Katmai: the Plan to Turn Brooks Camp Into a Theme
Rev. William Alberts
The Church of “Something Else” in “an Ecclesiastical Desert”
Mark Hand
Escape From New York: the Emancipation of Activist Cecily McMillan
Ramzy Baroud
Forget ISIS: Humanity is at Stake
Andrew Gavin Marshall
Bank Crimes Pay
Elliot Murphy
Cameron’s Syrian Strategy
Thomas S. Harrington
Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe and the Death of Ezra Schwartz
Gareth Porter
How Terror in Paris Calls for Revising US Syria Policy
Michael Perino
The Arc of Instability
Yves Engler
Justin Trudeau and Canada’s Mining Industry
Tom H. Hastings
ISIS and Changing the Game
Lars Jørgensen
Vive la Résistance
John Halle
A Yale Education as a Tool of Power and Privilege
Norman Pollack
Syrian “Civil War”?: No, A Proxy War of Global Confrontation
Sheldon Richman
Let the Refugees In
James Anderson
Reframing Black Friday: an Imperative for Déclassé Intellectuals
Simon Bowring
UN Climate Talks 2009: a Merger of Interest and Indifference
Ron Jacobs
Rosa Luxembourg–From Street Organizer to Street Name
Aidan O'Brien
Same-Sex Sellout in Ireland
David Stocker
Report from the Frontline of Resistance in America
Patrick Bond
China Sucked Deeper Into World Financial Vortex and Vice Versa, as BRICS Sink Fast
James A Haught
The Values of Jesus
Binoy Kampmark
British Austerity: Cutting One’s Own Backyard
Ed Rampell
45 Years: A Rumination on Aging
Charles R. Larson
Chronicle of Sex Reassignment Surgery: Juliet Jacques’s “Trans: a Memoir”
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
CounterPunch’s Favorite Films
November 26, 2015
Ashley Nicole McCray – Lawrence Ware
Decolonizing the History of Thanksgiving
Joseph Grosso
The Enduring Tragedy: Guatemala’s Bloody Farce