Comment: A red spot on FIFA’s prized possession

The protests now seem justified as seven workers have died during the unsystematic construction of the stadiums.

FARJAD KHAN April 04, 2014
The Brazilian government and Fifa are under the spotlight as fatalities during stadium constructions for the World Cup have marred the hype for the tournament. PHOTO: AFP

The greatest spectacle in world football is just 67 days away, with excitement levels sky-rocketing as the Fifa World Cup returns to supply an entire month of jam-packed action and an emotional roller-coaster ride for players and supporters alike. 

Brazil, home to one of the most picturesque locations on earth, will play host. The country has produced some of the most gifted players ever to touch the ball, with the likes of Pele, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho and Ronaldo having turned this game into a form of art.

The nation goes berserk whenever the World Cup approaches; streets are painted and millions of football enthusiasts quarrel and rejoice together. For a month, people forget their worries and become hypnotised by the sport’s allure.

However, amidst the craze, Brazil has been marred by a hefty amount of controversies as the mega event approaches. Call it the incompetent behaviour of the government or the lack of organisation by Fifa; the people of Brazil are the ones who have suffered the most. More specifically, the working class has endured the most.

One might be shocked as to why there are several protests being held against the government for hosting a reputable event, but considering the political and economic situation of the country, it would have been more suited to scout for a well-developed location instead.

The protests now seem justified as seven workers have died during the unsystematic construction of the stadiums.

Arena de Sao Paulo, which will host the opening match of the tournament between Brazil and Croatia on June 12, had already been lagging behind schedule prior to the latest accident, which resulted in the third death there since work began.

Three other deaths in the north at Manaus and another in the capital Brasilia have shocked the entire nation, who is now contemplating on how a lack of seriousness by the people responsible for the event has destroyed such a beautiful occasion.

All fingers point to Fifa, who have been rightly accused of focusing solely on the financial prospects of the tournament. On the other hand though, the governing body of football has blamed the Brazilian government for the lack of infrastructure and for not meeting preparation deadlines.

Feverish work has been going on at each of the stadiums during the past few months in an effort to have them ready by the summer. Will they be ready though? That is the most critical unanswered question, for which now both Fifa and the Local Organising Committee insist they have a positive answer.

Let us just assume there will be worthwhile developments from now onwards and we get to enjoy the World Cup. But at what cost will that be?

Fifa and the Brazilian government may have placed a monetary value on the total cost of construction, but how much money are the lives of the workers worth? These are the people who have toiled day-in, day-out to cover up for the inept executives.

Statements like ‘official investigation’ and postponements of the work will not bring back the lives of the working class who have spilled blood for the golden trophy.

The world might forget the issues that hindered the build-up to this event, as countries like Russia and Qatar, hosts of the next two World Cups, will again strengthen the reputation of Fifa.

In this World Cup’s wake, the people of Brazil will be left with a bitter taste in the end as no matter how big the sport is in the nation, the value of life in their eyes will always supersede their love for football.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 5th, 2014.

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