Tag: World Cup

The unsavoury World Cup runneth over

Monday, 2 June, 2014 0 Comments

The ongoing debate about the holding of the World Cup in Brazil, a country challenged by poverty, inequality and crime, has moved to the back pages following the weekend’s revelations about the costs of staging the event in Qatar in 2022. These costs are not just measured in infrastructural expenditures, but in lives lost and destroyed and rampant sleaze in the run-up to the awarding of the tournament to the emirate. The alleged corruption is breathtaking:

“The Sunday Times said it had obtained a cache of hundreds of millions of documents and emails, which detailed conversations about payments and money transfers from accounts controlled by Bin Hammam, his family and Doha-based businesses. Among many other alleged payments to mid-ranking football officials and figures including the former footballer of the year George Weah, Bin Hammam paid a total of $1.6m to the disgraced former Fifa vice-president, Jack Warner, including $450,000 before the vote. Warner has always denied any wrongdoing.”

For the past four years, the world has been looking forward to a football festival in Brazil. It could still turn out to be a marvellous spectacle but there’s an uneasy feeling abroad that the game has sold its soul.

Celebrating Brazil with the crowd

Friday, 23 May, 2014 0 Comments

Kieran O’Keeffe describes himself as “A happy Irish designer working and living in London with the super Lynsey Power.” Together, they had the excellent idea of creating a Brazil World Cup wall chart poster that would stand out from the crowd, and with the help of the crowd at Kickstarter, 55 backers pledged £660 to get the job done. Well done!

World Cup ad does not mention World Cup

Friday, 4 April, 2014 0 Comments

Starring Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, England’s Wayne Rooney and Brazil’s Neymar, this video ad from Nike shows each of its sponsorees getting into the flow for the main event, which starts 69 days from today. But why is there no mention of the World Cup itself? Because up there with Coca Cola, Visa, Sony and Emirates is the name of Adidas, one of the top-line sponsors of Brasilia 2014 and one of Nike’s main rivals. Great clip, though.

Brazil is over

Tuesday, 7 January, 2014 0 Comments

For the Arsenal and England forward Theo Walcott, Brazil is very over. He’ll miss the rest of the season and the World Cup with a ruptured knee ligament. And it’s not looking so sunny, either, for the host country. “More than six years later, the outlook for Brazil’s oil industry, much like the Brazilian economy itself, is more sobering. Oil production is stagnant, the state-controlled oil company, Petrobras, is hobbled by debt, and foreign oil companies are wary of investing here.” So reports the Washington Post today in a piece titled “Brazil’s oil euphoria hits reality hard.”

And the Wall Street Journal piles it on: “Even Brazil, which has had far more responsible economic management than Venezuela or Argentina, is starting to struggle with rising prices and a boom in credit that is starting to turn. Last year, one Brazilian summed up the Atlantic bloc harshly: ‘Brazil is becoming Argentina, Argentina is becoming Venezuela, and Venezuela is becoming Zimbabwe.'”

Everything that seemed to be going so brilliantly for Brazil has started to go sour of late. The preparations for the World Cup have been marred by delays, deaths, and demonstrations against the diversion of resources from social spending to football stadiums and, in the bigger arena, Mexico’s economic revival has checked Brazil’s hopes of leading a renascent Latin America in the global power game. Last year was horrible for all the BRICs but the home of Pele was especially hard-hit. This year, US Fed tightening could spark a run on Brazilian assets. With the hosting of the World Cup and the Olympics, Brasilia dreamed of taking a leading place on the world stage. Now, the swagger is less assured and the talk is filled with the familiar complaints about a big country that never quite lives up to its promise and remains uncertain about its role.

Indicative of the doubt, is Brazil’s attitude to the American data thief, Edward Snowden. He wrote an open letter last month saying that he would assist the Brazilian government in its investigations into NSA spying in exchange for asylum. Publicly, the foreign ministry has hedged, saying it has not received a formal asylum request and therefore isn’t considering it, but it was the risk involved in angering Washington that prevented President Dilma Rousseff’s leftist government from easing Snowden’s passage from the grimness of Putin’s icy realm to the warmth of the Copacabana.

When it came to making the challenge, Brazil blinked. Not a good omen for the Seleção, that, this year.

You can leave that winter coat in Frankfurt

Friday, 20 December, 2013 0 Comments

Cold weather is setting in across the Northern Hemisphere and that summer feeling of sunshine on bare skin is already a distant memory. So, there’s only one thing to do: Fly to somewhere with beautiful beaches and smiling people and mysterious aromas and tastes. Given that 2014 will be World Cup year, the state of Bahia on Brazil’s Atlantic seaboard seems like a perfect destination as it has lots of deserted beaches and rainforests filled with wildlife. Those who know say that the small town of Itácaré is perfect for surfing, sailing, and barefooty walking, while Trancoso is rumoured to be best for beach-partying.

The only issue is what to do with the hypothermia-preventing winter coat that’s needed to get one to the airport alive. It’s bound to look out of place when watching turtles nesting on Ningaloo Reef or when strolling through the old town of Galle. Well, Frankfurt Airport has solved the problem. For €0.50 a day, travellers can check-in their cumbersome coats and pick them up when they return tanned and fit. This also deals with the challenge of increasingly full overhead luggage compartments. By the way, it looks like Frankfurt borrowed this excellent idea from Korean Air, which, on 25 November 2010, announced, “Korean Air will provide a free coat storage service for passengers leaving Korea travelling to warmer countries such as East Asia, Hawaii, Australia and etc.”

Winter coat

The Anglosphere faces a futebol challenge in Brazil

Monday, 9 December, 2013 0 Comments

Most reasonable people would agree that our world would be a far more barbaric place without the game that Ebenezer Morley helped codify 150 years ago and the lingua franca that enables people from Ghana to Ireland to share their enjoyment of it. When it comes to sport and communication, the Anglosphere is the gift that keeps on giving, but past and present generosity won’t count for much on 12 June next year when the World Cup kicks off in Sao Paulo. From then on, it’s nation against nation and the devil take the hindmost.

In the case of the Anglosphere, its representatives — Australia, England and the United States — were dealt a particularly cruel hand by the FIFA draw last Friday. The Socceroos of Australia have to face Spain, the Netherlands and Chile, while the Three Lions of England are pitted against Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica, and the United States must play Germany, Portugal and Ghana.

Superstar statistician Nate Silver, recently of the New York Times and now employed at ESPN, is already on the job and he’s come up with a matrix that plots each team’s probability of advancing beyond the group stage. It doesn’t look good for Australia, but Nate gives England and the USA a fighting chance, which is a jolly decent thing to do.


Note: When Britain’s rule in Aden ended on 30 November 1967, the Secretary of State for Defence, Denis Healey, shared a nostalgic drink with Sir Charles Hepburn Johnston, the last Governor of the colony. As the two looked out across the Arabian Sea, with the sun setting for the final time on the British Empire east of Suez, Healey asked Johnston how he thought the British Empire would be remembered. Johnston replied that it would be remembered for only two things: “the game of soccer and the expression ‘fuck off'”.