The gentrification around the South African world cup of 2010, the 2012 London Olympics, and the slavery and human trafficking associated with preparations for the world cup in Qatar highlighted in last months ‘Freedom’, are proof if it was needed that the major global sporting events are little more than a cash cow that enable huge corporations and governments to exploit people and land.
This year has seen similar stories come to light in Brazil during preparations for the next world cup in 2014 and also the Olympics in 2016. In the last few months 19,000 families have been forcibly evicted from their homes by the police and armed forces. The housing minister claims that the families are not being forced out because of the world cup, but because the families chose to build their slum towns in inappropriate areas in the first place.
That fact that the towns have been in existence for decades and no issue of their location has ever been raised, coupled with the fact that all cleared towns are now earmarked for the construction of new stadia, or world cup and Olympic associated infrastructure upgrades, shows that the governments claims are just lies.
Six government ministers have been forced to resign in this year alone due to wholesale corruption around the handing out of government construction contracts related to the hosting of the World Cup and Olympic Games. Individual ministers are said to have personally amassed millions in bribes – some as much as $50 million. There are currently 38 prominent politicians, bankers, and businessmen on trial in what is being called, ‘Brazil’s trial of the century’, all related to government contracts.
Aside from the financial concerns, the human cost of Brazil hosting major sporting events are that 170,000 people have been forcibly evicted from their homes, and can never return.
The evictions have occurred in primarily high valued areas around cities, pushing people into bigger slums on the outskirts that have even less access to clean water, education, and public services.
When Brazil won the right to host these events, the government vowed that they would be the most transparent in history, and that hardly a cent of tax-payers money would be spent on them. Yet in actual fact they are proving to be the most corrupt in history, and like all similar events, the costs are spiralling rapidly out of control, with ordinary Brazilians carrying the burden.
Originally published in Freedom newspaper