How the World Cup Showcases Brazilian Inequality

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in ,, at 6/19/2014 02:00:00 AM
Just as you don't see fat or old people in Ricky Martin videos, something's missing here.
Brazil has long been the unwilling keeper of an image of radically high inequality, with fabulous wealth sitting alongside wretched squalor in any number of its cities. So many years after the black football player Pele won the hearts of the world with his magnificent displays, I am afraid that not all that much has changed. To be sure, the conditional cash transfer program Bolsa Familia which gives poor households grants upon meeting health and education criteria for their children has helped. That said, inequality remains radically high there, with Gini coefficients measuring inequality well above the 50 mark.

Earlier on, protests about the social wastefulness of hosting the World Cup were bolstered by a provocative image taken during the Confederations Cup also held in Brazil in which [rich, white] matchgoing fans threw garbage into a dumpster inhabited by a [poor, black] woman. Unfortunately, the supposedly progressive Brazilian leadership of Dilma Rousseff--formerly a Marxist guerrilla fighter--appears to be tone deaf to the sensitivities about race and inequality the sport raises. Alike the United States where [rich, white] basketball and football fans pay top dollar to watch sporting events dominated by black athletes, the symbolism is not lost:
Inside the stadium, crowds have been what you might expect at these large scale sporting beanos: basically a collection of rich people. This World Cup, like much of the London Olympics, is out of reach of those who cannot pay a premium for tickets. Welcome to the world. This was always going to be the case from the moment it became clear only 400,000 of 3.3m tickets would be made available to ordinary Brazilians, with most at prices beyond the reach of the average salary. There have been comments about the lack of non-white faces in the stadiums. This is not football-specific racism so much as a reflection of wider inequities. Brazil’s middle class is predominantly and historically white. These are not so much white people as rich people.
The Guardian's Barney Ronay reads this one correctly: having ultimately funded the mega-stadiums hosting these events, the ordinary folks certainly had a right to normally priced tickets. In this day and age of media supersaturation, it simply does not look good when this supposed "melting pot" has stadiums filled with a sea of white faces. It hardly reflects the multiracial composition of the football team:
While football cannot be blamed for Brazil’s entrenched social issues, Fifa can and should be blamed for not insisting a huge tranche of tickets go on sale to Brazilians at fixed, affordable prices. And not simply over the internet, to which not all have access, but through local team memberships and stadium connections. Everyday Brazilians are often hugely passionate about club football. They should be sitting in those publicly funded seats at Brazil’s World Cup.
The attendance shocker of the World Cup so far was the group stage rematch of the last event's finalists Spain and the Netherlands featuring 3,500 seats. I'll put the no-shows down to corporate-sponsored seats. Again, what harm would it have done to sell those to average Brazilians who'd have been more than happy to attend?