After protests upstaged the Confederations Cup in June, the head of international soccer’s governing body is now suggesting that awarding the 2014 World Cup to Brazil may have been a major mistake, Bloomberg reported.
“If this happens again we have to question whether we made the wrong decision awarding the hosting rights,” FIFA president Sepp Blatter said Wednesday after speaking with Brazilian officials about the issues around the Confederations Cup, a tune-up tournament for next summer’s World Cup. “We did emphasize the fact of this social unrest being there for the entire duration of the Confederations Cup,” Blatter added. “The government is now aware that next year the World Cup shouldn’t be disturbed.”
Chew on that last bit for a minute. The head of FIFA, an organization whose top officials have admitted that “less democracy is sometimes better for hosting a World Cup,” is essentially telling the Brazilian government that it should take any necessary step to keep its people from exercising their right to peacefully protest. In case it wasn’t clear the first time, Blatter reiterated it later: “They should work on it so that this is not going to happen again.”
It hasn’t been a good week for Blatter. He’s currently lobbying Qatar, the host of 2022 World Cup, to move the event to winter to avoid problems caused by the mind-numbing heat the country experiences during the World Cup’s traditional mid-summer schedule. That’s a problem Blatter apparently didn’t consider when his organization approved Qatar’s bid, a decision that has led to vote-buying and corruption allegations from former officials. Now, he’s sending a simple message to the Brazilians who have raised a problem with the World Cup there: it’s time to shut up.
Brazil should be teaching FIFA a lesson that it can’t trample the people of a country to put on the most extravagant event it can muster to raise as much money as possible, only to take its money and leave nothing but turmoil and white elephant stadiums behind. But of course it won’t, because countries will continue to line up to bid on the tournament and meet FIFA’s demands. Qatar, in fact, plans to spend as much as $200 billion on its World Cup. If FIFA’s arrogance is going to stop, it isn’t enough for the Brazilian people to ignore Blatter’s calls for silence. The rest of the world also has to step up and demand better World Cups so that these events don’t turn into nightmares for the people of the host country. These events don’t need to go away. They just need to be done better. But FIFA has no incentive to do that, and shutting up the way Blatter wants Brazilians to isn’t going to make it happen.