BY R.D. MILLER
The Global Colors
Every four years, millions of supporters attend watch parties in public parks and bars to ensure the best of the best players compete for bragging rights until the next four years. However, beneath the vibrant hues, beers will be consumed, food will be provided, and billions of dollars will be spent and blown like a whistle.
Wherever it is played, this fascinating game, event, never seems to be without controversy. These debates include a wide range of topics, including soccer or football, corruption, and the socio-economic role it should play in our society.
Regardless of the difficulties, and social and economic debate, the teams’ colors will be taken over our televisions, iPhones, tablets, and iPads like a rainbow. Underneath it all, residents are crying out for a new economic canvas to modernize and lift poor people out of poverty, and other racial disparities.
Football is a global sport that originated in England but was renamed soccer in the United States and this game brings people together regardless of race, class, or socioeconomic status. Starting a game is not prohibitively expensive.
However, the wealth gap is wider than the distance between the two goal lines in which these games are being played, whereas poverty is closer than the two goalposts.
According to several reports, other issues such as crime, unsolved killings, unemployment, and an ever-widening gap between the haves and the have-nots could benefit from the new direction.
Many people may be wondering if, after the final whistle, the oppressed will still be asking for economic referees for a penalty on some of their leaders who have not been given a card for foul plays.
Protests frequently erupt in response to the poor socioeconomic issues surrounding these games. The games continue, but the turmoil lingers.
These issues will resurface like the sea rushing back to the shores to recreate the sand paths that eroded from ongoing debris.
Several demonstrators said that “they have overlooked the local economic problems in Brazil.” This color will appear to be broadcast to the rest of the globe and will be vibrant, but Brazilians and their shaky economy are under scrutiny.
The expertly designed visuals that emerge from the periphery will leave a lasting impression.
These games are being led by the International Association Federation of Football (FIFA). It is a billion-dollar industry, and throughout this region, the games are ubiquitous.
To prepare for the 2014 World Cup, they spent an estimated cost of up to US$11 billion — while the Brazilian economy remains stagnant. However, the government has predicted that it will be a net positive for the overall economy, stemming from event-related services among several industries.
Frequently, these public expenditures fail on a far larger scale because, once the fans have left and the multi-million dollar stadiums are empty, the locals are left with the debt load.
Forbes magazine has reported that (FIFA) will generate about $4 billion in revenue. However, more needs to be done to promote social programs to cut poverty and not the appearance of forcing local economies to stretch their budgets to accommodate their demands.
Wherever FIFA places its goalposts, it is always under the microscope. Recently published in a British magazine, the organization is being investigated for corruption and bribes related to the Qatar 2022 bid.
The Social Impact
The World Cup has long been surrounded by a socio-economic debate. South Africa encountered similar questions in 2010 about how much money its government spent that could have been used to alleviate poverty.
Despite setbacks, such as England, Italy, and Australia’s early departures, the World Cup is bigger than its venue. The stage, however, remains where players and supporters use the event to highlight their countries, send statements, diplomacy, and reconnect with compatriots who may have been rivals or teammates playing for different football clubs.
This is like a family reunion before they return to business, and lifelong friendships are formed, between many countries and some with no diplomatic ties and cultural divides rooted in political conflicts.
The game, though, has far more ramifications than just 90 minutes on the pitch. Even among nations that may never meet, it broadens communities, economy, discipline, teamwork, acceptance, talent, and diplomacy.
The other Brazils are off the pitch.
Many rich club managers, as in many other professional sports, seek out young players from many countries to develop, and many from South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia became the face of the global sport.
However, for every ten players who have risen from poverty, many are still pining for referees or a respectable ball and pitch to envision a future on the big stage.
Soccer, sometimes known as football, has produced several international stars and helped to lift families out of poverty.
Some of their stories are similar to those of players in the National Football League (NFL), the National Basketball Association (NBA), baseball, and a variety of other professional sports.
FIFA has a track record of putting together successful tournaments. The game between the United States and Portugal received one of the greatest ratings, with upwards of 21 million people tuning in according to reports.
Imagine if these fans compel FIFA to ensure that the future goal posts are placed in an economically balanced manner.
For many youths, a soccer/football field and now “pitch” was critical to stay off the streets after school.
Although not all young players became stars, the friendships gained, and lessons learned lasted a lifetime.
The millions made by players who escaped slums (ghettos) were rarely spent back in the neighborhoods where it all began in some locations.
There are various communities of improvised youths yearning for education, decent affordable medicines, and safety underneath these targeted players.
Our society has been transforming, such as gentrification, as it has become more varied, which can lead to tension and even greater isolation.
Perhaps it is time for an economic and social package in these impoverished communities
Many reports reveal that if black Brazilians could go on a boat and escape, they would be safer on a soccer pitch since, aside from the economic stagnation, they kill more blacks at an alarming pace.
Overall crime has declined, but the number of violent deaths recorded has not decreased, particularly among black individuals.
Even though the homeless people are everywhere, with ongoing division and widening gaps between the haves and the have-nots, and who always tends to be on the street in greater numbers, as studies have shown, people of color.
Unfortunately, it does not take a world cup to see that these issues persist, and they do not go away after the goals are scored, the new high-end building is constructed, the celebrations conclude, and the nets are lowered.
Without a solid economic plan that will help all who are in need, poor people will always have a half-side call usable to move forward.
The Social Responsibility
With success comes responsibility, and despite the Beautiful Game’s efforts to break down barriers, some players continue to face discrimination. Some fans refer to niggers, monkeys, and bananas as game symbols.
Recently, Italian star Mario Balotelli spoke out after being subjected to racial slurs from a few fans, and more players must follow suit.
FIFA should know how to help combat these issues. It has been around since 1904 and now has over 300,000 clubs and millions of players around the world.
FIFA is excellent at managing global operations. However, as our society becomes more diverse, and isolated by ideology and personal interests, it will need more than building stadiums.
Equality, discrimination, and a platform for players to speak when issues threaten to reduce the next generation of players.
Often, I join a few new fans at the local sports bars who seem intrigued with long pauses when they realize a few teams starting at 11 such as the French, and Germans; the Italians have black players, and some are Muslims. It is more than a game, and awareness is key.
Many South and Latin American teams have returned home for the 2014 World Cup, and the celebrations have been spectacular.
However, there is a dark side lurking just north of these games off the Atlantic Ocean in some countries, thousands of children who have fled their countries where a few dominating stars call home.
The majority of these orphaned children are under the age of ten and are being held in detention camps along the US-Mexico border. According to reports, up to 90,000 people came from Honduras, Colombia, and Guatemala.
These young people fled to avoid sexual violence and other inhumane treatment and to escape crimes against humanity. No one knows what the long-term physiological repercussions will be, but studies have shown that it can be devastating.
Football organizations and their players cannot be the world police, but with success and global appeal comes the responsibility to speak out in times of humanitarian crisis.
Billions of dollars are spent to create perfect images, while others look for the next Latin superstar to fill their stadiums through ticket sales.
Unfortunately, some are still outside the gated walls where these games are being played, preparing to make the perilous journey North+.
Extra Minutes :
These extra minutes added to games have the potential to generate more revenue for FIFA. However, in a few weeks, the cameras will be turned off, and well-dressed immigrant men and women from television networks with a few selected feel-good stories will leave town, surrounded by security as if they were in a war zone.
There will be more games and many will have to navigate drug and crime-infested areas to reach a local field in the hopes of rising out of poverty to help their families, with little time left on the clock.
Today, I’m wondering if our socioeconomic polarization and disparities in inequality have harmed our imagination. Perhaps other major league sports programs should do more because, like Brazil, they give you the impression that someone is keeping an eye on us you for the next star, but are they seeing what is going on around some of the thorny issues?
The final whistle
When the final whistle blows, some of the players will have to pass through their impoverished towns and cities, which are rife with violence. Before FIFA looks for the next venue, it should look for ways to improve its balance sheet as well.
It must ensure that the community’s economic impact benefits everyone, regardless of color, class, race, or socioeconomic status, because the next 100 years can only be beautiful if it is more than just a game.
After the matches are played and the pageantry is over for poor people of color, the struggles continue.