FIFA

The World Cup 2014 begins in Brazil on Thursday, and you may be confused in thinking this is a political event given the amount of copy being devoted to things other than the players. A little context: Brazil has been madly building new stadiums and transportation systems ahead of the World Cup. Infrastructure building, and hopefully, outside funding for it, is one of the advantages of hosting the games, especially for a nation like Brazil, which is poised to be a first world nation, but isn’t quite yet. Unfortunately, public funds have paid for most of the construction, its been at a break neck pace, 9 construction workers have died on various projects, the latest just this past week working on the unfinished monorail, and people are justifiable more than a little upset about the expense and the rest of the unfinished mess when the nation faces other, more pressing issues, including unemployment. People protested the Confederations Cup games last summer, and they have an official protest mascot for these games. Dave Zirin in the Sunday New York Times lays most of the blame on the corruption of FIFA, especially it’s head Sepp Blatter. For those of you who missed this one, Blatter famously awarded the 2022 games bid to Qatar, despite the fact that playing a summer outdoor football tournament in Qatar is insane given the heat. Blatter then suggested moving the games to the spring, smack dab in the middle of the European leagues seasons. That went over like a ton of bricks. Admittedly, Zirin and the US, have skin in this game since we also made a bid for the 2022 games. But, there’s also strong evidence that someone got bribed in that process, so there may be a revote. At any rate, the messy back story to the games may be why there’s been less hype here than in previous ones. It could also be the fact that the USMNT drew the group of death. Only if  a miracle occurs, will we make it out of the group stage with Ghana, Portugal, and freaking Germany in our group.

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