Even while they prepare to be the world’s center of attention with the 2014 World Cup, FIFA are busy trying to polish up their reputation. It’s been tarnished recently, with more and more allegations uncovered about the underhanded ways in which Qatar went about securing votes for the 2022 World Cup.
Then, of course, there’s Brazil. The country spent an estimated $11.5 billion to ready themselves for the World Cup, yet many of the planned infrastructure projects were never even begun. Stadiums are still not complete, planned railway upgrades have yet to be finished, and six in ten believe hosting the tournament will be bad for Brazil.
Protests that began last summer are expected to continue through the World Cup, with citizens making their opinions heard on education, healthcare and public transportation (or lack thereof).
Brazil president Dilma Rousseff appealed to the people of Brazil on Tuesday, asking them to come together and support the tournament. But Sepp Blatter has a different idea in mind. Speaking to the FIFA Congress on Wednesday, Blatter said:
FIFA is shaping society. My vision for FIFA in this changing world is that we must become one of today’s pioneers of hope. Football is about freedom, equality and respect. People have the right to want a better world for their children to grow up in. Football should be a force for positive change in the world and not an obstructor to it. And so should FIFA.
One wonders just how much the FIFA president believes his own words. The organization awarded the next two World Cups to Russia and Qatar, neither of which promote freedom in regards to sexuality. Despite increasingly public demonstrations of racism, FIFA has yet to crack down – although Blatter insists it will happen. Last year, a female executive resigned from FIFA’s governance committee, accusing the organization of blatant sexism.
Blatter may talk a good talk. But most soccer fans are skeptical of his ability to walk that walk. In fact, they’re more likely to believe they’ll see soccer played on another planet first – as Blatter so intriguingly mused about in the same speech.