2014 World Cup Draw: Fans Protest in Rio

By | July 30th, 2011 | 4 Comments



The 2014 World Cup officially got underway today with the qualifying draw in Rio de Janeiro. Simultaneously, the Associação Nacional dos Torcedores de futebol (ANT, the National Association of Football Supporters) organized a demonstration against the World Cup (and the 2016 Olympics). ANT’s call to protest read thusly:

Do you think that the World Cup belongs to us?

Our government continually says that the World Cup and Olympics will bring benefits to Rio de Janeiro and Brazil. But who will benefit? The cost of living and rent are continually on the rise, families are forcibly removed from their homes and street vendors are prevented from working.

More: they are wasting public money on all of these projects and have put forward a law that will hide how much they have spent. To make things worse, the organizers of the World Cup, FIFA and Ricardo Teixeira (the president of the Brazilian Football Federation), are being accused of corruption by multiple sources.

Everything indicates that the World Cup and Olympics are going to repeat, on a larger scale, the history of the 2007 Pan American Games: misappropriation of public funds, unnecessarily large construction projects that become useless after the competition, benefits only for large businesses whose owners are friends of those in power and the violation of the human rights of millions of Brazilians.

The forced removal of families affected by these projects is happening in an arbitrary and violent manner. This situation has already been denounced by the United Nations. Mega-events are being used to install a State of Exception, with the systematic violation of the rule of law.

In this vein, what will be the legacy of the mega-events? The privatization of the city, of health and education? The gentrification of football culture and its stadiums? That private companies will reap profit and benefits with exemptions from taxation and subsidized loans? The profits from the World Cup will be for entrepreneurs, and the debt will be ours. Are we going to allow the mega-event histories of Athens 2004 and South Africa 2010 to repeat themselves?

Join us! Together we will change this trajectory, come and fight! Come kick a ball around with us at the Largo do Machado, the 30th of July beginning at 10am.

Zero evictions!

The city is not merchandise to be bought and sold!

No to the privatization of land and public resources, airports, education and health care!

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Filed under: The Hosts

Japan Win Women’s World Cup, or did USA lose it?

By | July 17th, 2011 | 2 Comments



Congratulations to Japan for being crowned World Champions. But the USA really threw this one away. Squandered chances (especially in the first half), shocking defensive errors in the clutch, dubious coaching decisions, and poor penalty shooting left many of us embittered at the end of the night. Still, Sawa’s goal in the 117th minute was pure genius. A perfect symbol of the skill, movement, and self-belief of the Japanese side. Maybe Marta won’t be named FIFA Player of the Year in 2011!

Watch highlights here.

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Filed under: The Players

Homeless World Cup: Can football change the world?

By | July 12th, 2011 | 1 Comment



With the Homeless World Cup about to start, Inês Santinhos Gonçalves of Street News Service looks at the power of a ball to create change. Does football have the power to lift those at the bottom out of poverty, or even make them rich? Includes interviews with David Goldblatt, Jonathan Magee, and me.

Read full article here.

Mentalita’ Americana

By | July 10th, 2011 | 2 Comments



So nobody here in Italy gives a hoot about the Women’s World Cup. 

None of the three sport dailies have given the tournament any decent coverage, little more than scores and a sidebar while the rest of the paper is devoted to summer serie A pre-season gossip, Formula 1 profiles, and lame lifestyle pieces. The WWC games are shown on satellite only, with no substantial highlights on TV despite the fact that this football-mad nation has nothing other than dull (so far) Copa America in the middle of the night to keep millions entertained.

Due to Apple’s lack of cooperation with Adobe (makers of flash player used by fifa’s web site), I resorted to following the USA-Brazil on Espn gamecast . . .  here we were, the whole family at the dinner table crowded around an iPad waiting breathlessly for the next line of text to narrate what was happening on the pitch.

Decoding the intensity of the events, the odd calls, cautions and ejections, it was all very strange, but captivating. In a 1930s kind of way, when crowds used to gather in the streets and piazzas to hear a guy read out updates sent by telegraph. 

Wambach’s goal had us leaping out of our seats, chicken, tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, and peppers flying around like it was Carnival!  The PKs were a bit challenging to follow since no text appeared until the last couple of penalties.

As dessert beckoned, the final score read USA – Brazil 5-3 — actually 2-2 (5-3). Youtube generously and quickly provided the highlights a few minutes ago. Thank goodness for the internet. And praise be to football.

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Filed under: The Players