Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The World Cup as Oppressive Big Business

Those who support major sporting events going to various locales often argue the events will bring in international money via tourists and build a long-term infrastructure that supports the local economy. That might be true for locales that are already well off, but for regions that are hurting, the sporting events do little if anything in the form of long-term sustenance. The 2004 Olympics were held in Greece, and look at Greece now.

The Independent has an insightful piece up titled, "
The ugly truth about the beautiful game," which documents the problematic dimensions of the World Cup being held in a vulnerable country, with beneficiaries being wealthy industries outside of South Africa:

...radical Sowetan columnist Andile Mngxitama said all Fifa is giving Africa is a month-long feel-good episode which will do little, long-term, to change perceptions or economic realities. "The World Cup is a colonial playground for the rich and for a few wannabes in the so-called South African elite," he argued. "Whereas in the past we were conquered, the South African government has simply invited the colonisers this time."

Additionally, World Cup organizers are doing more for countries outside of the African continent:

In the light of low international take-up of tickets, Fifa and its sponsors have organised "Fan Fests" with large screens in major European cities. But none are planned for the African continent outside South Africa. Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke said television rights had, however, been offered free to national broadcasters in most African countries. "Municipalities in African capitals are free to organise large screens for fans," he said.

There are few signs that the South African World Cup has rubbed off on the rest of the continent. In the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, restaurateur Tegenaw Gashaw said his television would be switched on but that it always was anyway, for the English Premiership. "We are proud to know the World Cup is being hosted in an African country but we worry, because of South Africa's terrible reputation for crime, that it is all going to go wrong and do more harm than good for the continent."

I've
written before on the ways that major sporting events can increase crime and exploitation in host cities. Really, major sporting events, such as the World Cup and Olympics, are indicators of globalization where big business gets what it can financially out of a particular locale temporarily, and then bails out after the hoopla is over, or where higher-income countries strong-arm lower-income countries into agreeing to long-term, oppressive labor contracts for their assistance in funding short-term sporting events.

Al Jazeera has done the best job of illustrating this phenomenon as it relates to the 2016 Summer Olympics, which will be held in Rio, in this 2-part series:







And for another great piece on exploitation through soccer specifically across Africa, watch this Al Jazeera video:




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