The World Cup 2014 is set to begin today in São Paulo and end on July 13 in Rio de Janeiro. For this much-anticipated month of soccer, Brazilian citizens have paid a very high price, including the 10 billion reals ($4.47 billion) that FIFA, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, headquartered in Switzerland, will pocket, which is as much as the two last World Cups put together.
In Brazil there’s always room for soccer. Anywhere. On the street, on the beach, on improvised fields. It is played barefoot, with shoes, in stadiums, as part of a team or among friends. Even the great players, Pelé, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, or Neymar began playing this way. A visitor to Brazil can find goals in the most inhospitable places, in the countryside, in cities, in the jungle, in indigenous villages or in favelas. But as the sport has turned into an industry, that playful, collective game, with its beauty born of the joy of playing for the sake of playing, has begun to disappear.
The World Cup 2014, which will be the privilege of a few and a headache for many, has sparked unprecedented organizing against FIFA. In 11 of the 12 cities that will host one of the games, social movements have united under the banner of the People’s Committees to demand that citizens’ human rights stop being violated for the sake of an event in which few will be able to participate. Members from all sectors of society and many existing social movements have joined in the organizing, including the São Paulo metro workers, who yesterday, on the eve of the cup, declared a strike to demand higher wages and protest the firing of fellow employees.