This is a tale of two presidents who, as in every story that has ever been told, have been established as Evil well before “Once upon a time…” was uttered.
We join the story as the visiting FIFA monarch, President Blatter, and President Dilma Rousseff prepare to open the 2013 Confederations Cup:
I watched this live on BBC Sports and while Blatter was getting some of the dissension, the volume raised considerably when Dilma spoke. Any clapping you hear was from those surrounding the presidential area, its level determined by how close the microphones were to the box, maybe even added in later, depends on who posted the video. In contrast, the stadium exploded for the Brazilian National Anthem.
Afterward, the game continued as normal, the announcers mainly discussing Neymar, ad nauseum, with the typical discussion of the pitch, the playing surface, and how poor it was, especially in relation to the ball FIFA insists on using.
Basic futbol talk.
The announcers also mentioned the stadium, its cost 1.2 billion Reals, between 600 and 500 million US, the fact that Brasilia has no national team and definitely no future need for such a huge building, especially with attendance being down at games across the country, and that the city was looking into using the venue for other purposes, there is going to be a Beyonce concert there in September(!).
The announcers did add that before every World Cup the same concerns about whether or not the country and its infrastructure will be ready are expressed, and every time the host pulls it all together flawlessly.
The opener ended with a stunning Brazilian win 3-0 over Japan.
Blatter’s initial response to the booing was that is happened because no one likes to hear speeches, they want to watch futbol! Later, he stated that the protestors were ‘exploiting’ the situation. In an interview prior to Monday’s match, Blatter was quoted as saying “people are using the platform of football and the international media presence to make certain demonstrations. “ He followed with assurances all of these protests will die down as the competition continues with the third game happening that evening.
Blatter could not have been more wrong as thousands upon thousands took to the streets across Brazil Monday night.
There have been accusations leveled at FIFA, saying it is censoring the media and its announcers, telling them they cannot reference the protests, the stadiums or even the condition of the field. However you feel about whether this is happening or not, whether FIFA needs to involve itself in local politics or not, I can tell you this, during Sunday’s game between Mexico and Italy, the BBC announcers made ONE reference to the pitch which was quickly backpedaled as they said they were not really allowed down on the field, and if they had been, they did so ‘safely’. It was a quick, and obviously uncomfortable, exchange that felt like two people covering up a mistake.
Rumor has it Blatter may be receding from the public eye following Monday’s events.
What of President Rousseff?
She cannot stay out of the way like Blatter. She has suffered a drop in her approval rating of 8 points and the calls for her impeachment have gained volume, both in number and in intensity.
To this outsider, her control appears to be slipping…
And, in the tradition of the great Charles Dickens, this story will be continued next issue….