I was amazed by the glory and excitement of the 2014 World Cup, hosted in Brazil. I was in São Paulo for the entire World Cup and I had an extraordinary experience. Although I did not attend any World Cup matches, I had a wonderful time watching the games with my extended family and going out and participating in the vibrant World Cup environment. I went to the FIFA fest, an organized location in the middle of the city of Sao Paulo that broadcasts games and sells merchandise, and the huge new stadium in Sao Paulo to watch a local game.
I enjoyed both experiences and I was fascinated by the scale and glory of Brazil’s new infrastructure and renewed areas for the World Cup.
But behind the World Cup hype, I started to notice many discrepancies between the expected benefits that the World Cup would bring, and the actual results. I was not alone, many Brazilians took to the streets to protest the negative effects of the World Cup. Does FIFA uphold high moral standards when organizing and promoting soccer events such as the World Cup? Does FIFA misuse its power for its gain?
As the largest sports governing body in the world, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, FIFA, aims to uphold high moral standards and it aims to prioritize its athletes, fans, and the general welfare of the public. Most people hold FIFA in high regard due to the increase in its popularity and the rapid development of soccer over the years.
FIFA seems to have done a superb job at promoting and organizing soccer. However,r there are many discrepancies between what is seen in the media and the actual underlying effects of the policies FIFA implements. Many claim FIFA pressured RotsteinBrazil into unnecessarily spending billions of dollars on new infrastructure as well as its policies regarding the World Cup (Robinson). Many also question FIFA’s and its executives’ tremendous wealth in Swiss bank accounts. Furthermore, many find it shocking that FIFA determined the host of the 2022 World Cup to be Qatar, one of the countries that are least suitable to hold the World Cup (Wahl). These criticisms threaten the future of professional soccer and the welfare of the general public who is affected by FIFA policies. Therefore, FIFA deserves to be examined and potentially reformed.
FIFA has been recognized for many accomplishments. FIFA is a powerful association responsible for the organization of professional soccer globally. According to FIFA’s 2013 financial report, found on its website, FIFA makes a yearly net profit of 72 million dollars, and it has 1.4 billion dollars in reserves in Swiss bank accounts. It administratively oversees six Confederations, responsible for organizing continental soccer events, and 209 national associations, responsible for organizing national soccer events. It is also fully responsible for organizing the FIFA World Cup, the largest and most popular sporting event in history. It is headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland and it is self-governing. Over the past fifty years soccer has seen globalization and tremendous expansion and FIFA, as the organizing entity, has been accredited for playing a part in this accomplishment (Rostein). Through their advertisement and organizational decisions, they helped bring soccer to a global stage. They have helped establish soccer confederations, which they oversee, and they have consistently organized and excellently executed the FIFA World Cup. They are also responsible for a growing standard in the World Cup. Every World Cup has been more popular and more organized than the last (Rotstein. To the global public, they seem to have done a great job.
FIFA has been accused of unfairly treating Brazil in its implementation of the 2014 World Cup. According to Globo News, Brazil’s most popular national news program, which has millions of viewers, tourists of the Brazil World Cup claim it has been one of the best World Cups yet. Many enjoyed the beautiful stadiums and Brazilian culture. The events were organized very well, there was accessible transportation for most tourists, and the athletes were given very luxurious treatment (RoRotstein But, much research indicates that FIFA’s treatment of Brazil was unfair and unethical. Antunes, a popular Forbes journalist, and Mezzasalma, the writer of the scholarly and peer-reviewed journal “Marching On”, thoroughly examined the impacts of the World Cup on Brazil and claim Brazil inefficiently spent money that could be otherwise put towards much better use for the safety and health of its people. According to a conservative estimate released by the Brazilian federal government, Brazil spent 12 billion dollars on the World Cup. Most of the money went towards the construction and renovation of stadiums and urban mobility projects (Statistica). Brazil today is a third-world country that faces major problems such as a horrific education, healthcare, and police system (Mezzasalma). But despite these problems, FIFA held high demands inonts stadiums and policies. FIFA required that Brazil not enforce its alcohol ban from stadiums during the World Cup (CNN). This ban comes from decades of violence and deaths in Brazilian stadiums, but FIFA required the sale of alcohol in the stadiums. FIFA sent a statement to CNN declaring that “The selling of beer in stadiums is part of the fan culture and will also be part of the 2014 FIFA World Cup”. Although the ban was exempted for only the World Cup matches, it still threatened the safety of people who participated in olent soccer culture. After all these changes, all the merchandise and ticket profits went directly to FIFA (Antunes). Of course, the World Cup brought foreign investment and tourism, but it is hard to say if it compensates for the large spending. Many citizens question the integrity of FIFA in ororganizedoccer. Furthermore, there have been many allegations and investigations into the corruption of FIFA during the management of the World Cup (Robinson).
How did FIFA and its executive’s profit from the World Cup? Was FIFA masking its corruption with the hype that the World Cup brought? Was FIFA looking out for the benefit of the general public or itself?
There have been few World Cups held in the Middle East and holding one in Qatar promotes interconnectivity. But, many argue that Qatar is one of the least suitable places to hold the World Cup. Grant Wahl, an acclaimed sports journalist, wrote an article in Sports Illustrated, a sports magazine with millions of readers, criticizing FIFA’s decision in holding the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Wahl first states the simple facts. Qatar is a very small country, with a small population of 2.6 million, and a weak soccer country. The Qatar national team has never qualified for the World Cup. In the summer in which the 2022 World Cup will be held, Qatar will have an average temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit. With claims, Qatar is determined to build stadiums and other infrastructure necessary to cool down the players and tourists. Then Wahl shifts to more serious reasons why Qatar is a horrible place for the World Cup. He states that Qatar has a history of major human rights violations. The huge wealth disparity between the rich and poor allow for major mistreatment of the poor. Wahl claims that Qatar has already begun its major construction projects for the World Cup, including constructing an entirely new city, Lusail city. Wahl concludes that Qatar has started construction early to avoid human rights criticisms once the World Cup date approaches. Furthermore, Wahl depicts that migrant workers, such as those from Nepal or India, have almost no rights while working in Qatar. The employer has the right to hold their passport and demand they work extra hours. Wahl estimates that thousands of migrant workers will die by the end of the construction projects. Is holding a World Cup in the Middle East worth the human rights violations?
FIFA has faced many corruption allegations in the past. But its recent treatment of Brazil in preparation for the 2014 World Cup and its decision to hold the 2022 World Cup in Qatar has brought many more corruption allegations to an organization that lacks transparency and accountability (Jennings). Should FIFA be responsible for the negative effects its policies have on the public? To what extent is there corruption in FIFA? Should the public demand changes that will hit the root of the problem, such as replacing the top executives of the whole organization and restructuring it as a whole to be transparent and accountable? How can there be changes in a powerful self-governing and self-evaluating organization, which is mostly adored? It is clear that FIFA undoubtedly deserves to be examined.