Comparisons are a vital part of sports. We can't set our eyes on a new talent without immediately pointing to who that player reminds us of, like the Leonardo Di Caprio meme from Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. I do it too, so I wish I had an answer for why we can't escape the jaws of a player-comp,...
FIFA Comments About Africa Are Worse Than You Thought
In this week's edition of FIFA proving they might be the most immoral and despicable organization on the planet, FIFA President Gianni Infantino took center stage. He claimed that the reason the World Cup should take place every two years is so that Africans will find dignity and stop migrating to Europe. I'm not joking; he really said that.
Not one to ever misquote anyone- here's the full quote as well as a clip to go with it. "We need to find ways to include the whole world to give hope to Africans so that they don't need to cross the Mediterranean in order to find maybe a better life but, more probably, death in the sea. We need to give opportunities, to give dignity."
FIFA president Gianni Infantino said his plan to stage a World Cup every two years would bring hope to African nations and might stop them trying to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean.— Sky News (@SkyNews) January 26, 2022
The comments have been heavily criticised.
More here: https://t.co/VcV3F1HmX6 pic.twitter.com/x7V2VUSKaq
Keep in mind this was not a quote taken out of context. This was part of Infantino's speech at the European Council, a governing body focused on human rights. Meaning he probably wrote this, read it over, and went, yeah, this is the one, they'll agree with this.
I could go into detail as to how awful that is, how that dehumanizes the continent, but that would only be commenting on the latest in a trend that's been around forever in the disparaging ways some European governing bodies and officials speak about Africa and Africans. I still remember back at the start of the pandemic, when there were still discussions of a possible vaccine and what testing could entail. A French Doctor said on National TV that, "If I could be provocative, shouldn't we do this study in Africa where there are no masks, treatment, or intensive care, a little bit like we did in certain AIDS studies or with prostitutes?"
The man he said that to replied, "You are right." That man was Camille Locht, a researcher at the French Institute of Health.
So rather than go on and on about that, I'd like to focus on the base reasoning for Infantino's argument, the idea that the World Cup should occur more often so that countries in developing nations can host the tournament, therefore changing their fortunes and benefiting their citizens. That argument is dangerously misleading and extremely flawed.
The truth of hosting the World Cup is that it tears down countries more than builds them up. If you're not one of the handful of countries in the world that already has the facilities and stadiums in place to host a tournament like this, you must spend billions of your own money to meet standards for a month-long tournament. Billions of tax-payer dollars on facilities that usually turn into nothing afterward.
Because that's the secret to the game, the World Cup is where FIFA makes all their money.
FIFA lets the country host the World Cup but provides zero funding for the infrastructure projects required. They then come in and take essentially all of the profits, which amounts to billions of dollars, and because they are a "non-profit" on paper, they vaguely say the money goes to developing the game globally. Meanwhile, the FIFA president walks away with millions in salary by the end of the year.
And what do the countries get in return for all these costs? Nothing really but a bunch of fluff words. Sure, during the tournament, tourism will increase- but what about afterward? In each of the last three world cups, the actual increase in tourism has fallen well short of pre-tournament estimations. You end up losing billions in revenue and have nothing to show for it but stadiums that serve as the world's most expensive graffiti site once the tournament is over.
Look at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The country spent billions in taxpayer dollars to build stadiums, each stadium hosted a handful of games during the tournament, and now there is no use for them. Some have been rented out as bus parking lots and birthday party sites because the city is desperate to make any money it can. Brazil's GDP fell by 30 percent after the tournament, and the unemployment rate doubled in the three years after.
This failure was no shock either. Millions of Brazilian citizens protested hosting the tournament, begging the country to invest the billions into education and healthcare instead.
The 2010 South African World Cup was a little better, but overall more of the same. Tourism estimates fell short, with some estimates saying the country spent $13,000 for every tourist it attracted. South Africa spent billions to host the tournament, mostly on stadiums that had little use afterward. Then FIFA gets to come in, taking a large percentage of ticket sales and all of the broadcasting revenue.
And what is particularly malicious about his speech is that FIFA and Gianni Infantino are well aware of these statistics but are willing to ignore them because it affects their bottom-line. There is no way Infantino actually believes the reason to play World Cup's more often is that it'll somehow benefit Africans.
The same organization attempting to make this moral grandstand is the same that handed 2022 World Cup hosting rights to Qatar, a country whose long list of human rights violations include imprisoning gay people, requiring women to receive permission from fathers or spouses for many activities, and perpetuating labor laws that have led to the death of thousands of migrant-workers during construction for the World Cup stadiums.
If FIFA really cared about the countries hosting the tournament, they would use part of their considerable wealth to help with infrastructure costs. In addition, the host country would get to keep the majority of the revenue to reinvest into their economy.
But the truth is, they want to host the World Cup more often to increase their revenue two-fold. The World Cup is the money maker, so why not have it more often.
And they know that's an embarrassing reason, especially if virtually every fan, player, and coach are against the idea of changing the format from four years to two years for a host of valid reasons such as player health, novelty, and costs. So the response is to find some loose moral cause as to why you need to have the tournament every two years.
And if doing that means the president of the organization has to get on the World Stage and blatantly mislead his constituents that hosting more frequent World Cups will somehow benefit developing countries and not harm their economy like it has virtually every single time, then he'll do it.
Money talks, and for FIFA, the end goal is not civil rights or common human decency; the end goal is more money.
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