Sunday, July 6, 2014

Politics of the World Cup

I had intended to follow up on the loose ends I left hanging in Video games are not bad for you, but I'm not up to it just yet.  Instead, here are two articles I included in last night's Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Hurricane Arthur) on Daily Kos about the politics of the World Cup plus a bonus video from John Oliver.

First, the University of Florida reports that Brazil can still capitalize on good vibes from World Cup.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Brazil can still make the positive glow from hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup last for years if it starts right away building programs that will unite citizens long after the event is over, a University of Florida study has found.

That’s the opportunity South Africa missed after it hosted the 2010 World Cup, and Brazil has even more to lose if it does the same, said Heather Gibson, a UF tourism, recreation and sport management professor.

“There’s obviously a lot of dissent over hosting and the amount of money being used to host the event when there are many more pressing social issues,” she said. “Tread lightly and show the people that they also get a share in any of the benefits.”

In the run-up to the World Cup, Brazil saw large-scale protests across the country that focused on the government’s decision to spend billions on the event instead of on correcting social ills such as homelessness. While the number of participants has dwindled with the games underway, some demonstrators have continued their activities.
This internal political effort is important, as Brazil is also hosting the Summer Olympics in two years.  A lot of the same problems will be played out again on an even larger scale with the Olympics, at least in terms number of venues and potential disruption, so Brazil will need to learn from its mistakes or risk more unrest over sport--and not just rioting over the results of the matches.

Follow over the jump for an article from Georgia Tech and John Oliver's perspective on FIFA, the ruling organization of soccer.

Next, Georgia Tech chimes in with World Cup 2014: Political Struggles Play Out on the Soccer Pitch.
Tech Students Watch from Around the World

Controversy, protests and negative press aside, Kirk Bowman, professor in the School of International Affairs, is fully indulging in the 2014 World Cup.

“This year’s quality of play and drama, glory, and agony are the best in memory,” he said.

Bowman teaches a “Soccer and Global Politics” course, is working on a book by the same name, and views understanding soccer as a crucial element to understanding a number of other global issues. He leads a summer study abroad program in Spain and Portugal, which gave him and his students the chance to observe this year’s event from the reigning world champion country.

This year, Spain provided a fertile study space for explorations of political tensions playing out on the soccer pitch. The team has historically bounced between two different styles of soccer play: One, rooted in Barcelona, is known for being patient and orchestrated; the other, a more traditional national style, is known for being more aggressive. The former has been their recent style and won the team multiple championships, but got Spain ousted from this year’s World Cup after only two games.

Bowman makes the case that these conflicting approaches to soccer mirror the country’s larger issues of conflicting identity.

“The contested identity of Spain as a unitary state led by Madrid, versus a federal state with multiple autonomous regions, will be an ongoing battle,” he said, “and that battle will largely take place in conversations about soccer and style.”
This last sentence is an example of why I think the culture of entertainment and sports is a worthy subject of study.  All of the collapse-and-decline-related entertainment I explore exposes the fault zones in our society that can rupture in times of stress.

The Georgia Tech article also points out something else worth noting.
Bowman has been able to further explore these kinds of issues with his students this summer, in addition to delving into issues of corruption, democracy, and how Brazil’s electoral system influenced its preparation — or lack thereof — for the World Cup.

Regardless of the level of controversy or corruption, though, the event’s global significance and entertainment value remain.

“No matter how poor the Brazilian preparations and how unsavory FIFA, soccer is the global game, and the World Cup is the greatest show on earth that will dazzle some 40 billion cumulative viewers,” Bowman said.
Speaking of how unsavory FIFA is, here is the John Oliver clip I promised: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: FIFA and the World Cup (HBO).

John Oliver's excitement for the World Cup is tempered by knowing information about FIFA, the organization that produces it. John details the problems with the upcoming tournament and the staggering allegations of corruption against FIFA.
My reaction to this segment when I first saw it was "FIFA reminds me of the International Olympic Committee, and I'm not sure we need two of those."

I'll cover the more obviously post-apocalyptic entertainment news later.  If nothing else, I can link to what other bloggers have to say about all of the TV shows and movies that are out or being promoted right now.

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