Posted: 6/27/2013
Title: BREAD & CIRCUSES

Blog:                                                                                                                         

      Bread & Circuses Latin - PANEM ET CIRCENSES. From 140 BC until 44 BC The Roman Republic tried to court popularity by offering free wheat and costly circus games. Triviality and Frivolity according to Juvenal who a century later who was a great commentator and wit.

      Well, fast forward to BRASIL 2013 Confederations Cup and FIFA WORLD CUP 2014.  There was no competition for the World Cup in Brazil, so no detailed plan of action with costs and methods. Brazilians are tardy and so has been the construction of stadiums and infrastructure. This means that contracts were offered without much public scrutiny and corruption ruled.

      In 2006 in Germany the stadiums were built on time and most are used extensively these days, apart from Leipzig in the former DDR - East Germany, where only a third tier club plays to small crowds. In South Africa many stadiums are white elephants such is in Cape Town, Durban, Polokwane, while Gautang has far too many stadiums in Johannesburg and Pretoria. Brazil, has spent THREE TIMES what the South Africans did on stadiums.

      Brasil's soccer league games are poorly attended due to late kick-offs due to TV  company pressure, poor transort, competitition on the flat screen from soap operas and pricing.  Most people watch in bars or at home with neighbours. Average attendances are less than 13,000 and I have been to huge stadiums with considerably less. Averages are less than MLS in USA, Australian, Japanese, Korean and many European leagues.

     While the new or refurbished stadiums in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegro will be well used, many will not. In Brasilia the nations capital, average attendance at the last 150 matches with local teams is less than 1,000 per game.  Manaus in the middle of the Amazon, Cuiaba in the Panatal and more can hardly justify spreading the Cup nation wide. At the 1950 World Cup only 6 cities were used. Porto Alegre, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo HorizonteCuritiba, and only one in the North East -Recife, and none in the interior. Only 13 teams actually showed up for the finals.

     There was a road block and no go area 2km and another 1km from the Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte Wednesday night for the first of the two Confederation Cup semi-finals as Brasil defeated Uruguay 2-1.  Lots of tear gas and as in many of the other demonstrarions there were lots of stones and rocks available in the unfinished stadium surroundings.

     "WE WANT FIFA QUALITY EDUCATION, HEALTH CARE AND TRANSPORTATION" said the protesters, most of whom were peaceful.  When I first visited Brasil it was run by a military dictatorship. Now there is democracy-of a sort.  I have been in many hospitals and schools and they are sub standard by western standards. I have been in the favelas surrounding Rio with friends and they are grim, and stayed in homes with high security fences like South Africa and guards 24 hours in little huts at street corners.

     Last November I visited my friend Roberto who is a member of PMERJ the Policia Militar at their HQ barracks in downtown Rio.  He is a member of the elite SQUADRA CHOQUE-Shock Squad. They wear khaki rather than the normal police blue uniforms and are trying to control the favelas. I was given the grand tour and photo ops. with their bullet proof 'tanks'. The word FAVELA comes from a tree in the north-east Bahia State where many came from 60 years ago looking for work.

     There are no inter city train services and while long distance buses are air conditioned and comfortable the local urban rail network is ramshackle, and not comfortable. In the tourist areas and beaches of Rio de Janeiro you should be safe and lots of fun.  Food and drink is the same price as Europe and USA but locals earn maybe 4 or 5 times less. World Cup tickets are expensive for them and an official T shirt a two days wage for a teacher. FIFA runs off with the profits to Switzerland and has a bank reserve of over $1.5 billion. 

     Salaries for top executives are not published, but I believe that last year alone General Secretary Jerome Valcke trousered a bonus of $5 million on top of his salary and expenses. President Sepp Blatter pays little tax-its paid directly by FIFA anyway as part of his 'deal'. Each Swiss canton has different tax structures. He lives in one canton but claims cheaper taxes from a post office box address in a cheaper one. Romario tweeted that FIFA is a state within  a state. WELL... if it was a state it would probably be called.... PARASITE !

     The Lower House late Tuesday voted to drop controversial  PEC 37 the bill that would have limited investigative powers of federal prosecutors to tackle official corruption. Back in 2005 the MENSALAO Scandal caught out two dozen politicians who were paid for votes under the former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. They are not in jail yet, 8 years later, due to appeals. Yesterday one of them, Natan Donadon, was ordered to jail immediately after exhausting all his appeals

       President Dilma Rousseff, who was herself in jail for political reasons in the past, has tried her best. She announced that 75% of oil revenues will fund education reforms and 25% to health services. Plus $20 billion for transportation.

      Brasil is in the final next Sunday at Estadio Maracana. WATCH OUT FOR TROUBLE IF THEY LOSE.!!

     

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