Aside from the FIFA Confederations Cup, the other big news that is taking place in Brazil in the last few days has been the taking to the streets by protestors who have protested a number of grievances, each related whether directly or indirectly to the tournament and World Cup to be held next summer.
The situation has seen famous Brazilian soccer greats like Romario and Rivaldo to speak out and criticize the government and President Dilma Rousseff for the way it has misused public funds on the building of stadiums, as opposed to addressing other more pressing issues. The protests highlight not just issues within Brazilian society, but they also highlight continuing issues with how FIFA operates.
The protests that first started in Sao Paulo and then spread to other cities in Brazil, including demonstrations outside venues of the Confederations Cup, pertain to an increase to bus and subway fares. As more and more protests have occurred since the initial ones in Sao Paulo, the protests have addressed a number of grievances like those touched upon by Romario and Rivaldo.
In the middle of all this is the staging of the Confederations Cup right now and of the World Cup next summer. These two soccer events play an indirect role in the protests because of the use of public money. When Brazil won the right to hosts the World Cup, and by extension the Confederations Cup, the government at the time stated that no public money would be used to build new stadiums and that the use of public money would be spent on infrastructure like transportation improvements.
Now how does this affect or concern FIFA? Despite the Confederations Cup being a test run for the World Cup, the issues that have existed prior to the tournament, the ones that are being exposed now, will still be there a year from now. Most notably, infrastructure projects like improvement of public transport in main cities, airport upgrades and highway improvements will not be done in time for the World Cup or have not even been started at all.
Therefore, those who travel to Brazil for the World Cup next summer need to be prepared to deal with a calamity and have a lot of patience since getting around will be tough and, at times, unnecessarily complicated.
Aside from this being a concern for FIFA, the current protests also expose hypocrisies and shady dealings that FIFA practices and engages in. First and foremost, FIFA makes out like robber barons in that it does not have to pay tax on profits it makes from the World Cup back to the Brazilian government. Clearly, some dark room political dealings made this arrangement possible.
Along the way, a number of officials have expressed concern about Brazil’s lack of progress in meeting benchmarks for preparations for the World Cup. Yet while a few times there was scorning from someone at FIFA, the fact of the matter was that Brazil was or is going to have the event pulled away given the political arrangements behind the hosting of the 2014 edition of the World Cup in the country.
Those same dealings are the same ones that are in question and have led to a rather incomplete and half-hearted ethics inquiry within FIFA and into finding out how the Russia and Qatar landed the bids for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
While many will try to sell that the protests are not connected to the hosting of the Confederations Cup and/or World Cup, the corruption many are protesting about on the streets are a show that aside from national issues, those within FIFA are still to be resolved.