Gaffney: The Slithering Path to Brazil 2014 Continues…

Professor Christopher Gaffney updates TSG on Brazil 2014.

Chris Gaffney

About: Professor Gaffney is a visiting professor at the Universidade Federal Fluminese in the Department of Architecture and Urbanism. His research and teaching at the university are focused on the urban and social impacts of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Gaffney, also, is the author of “Temples of the Earthbound Gods” an annal that explores the history, geography and culture of stadiums in Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires.

Finally, Professor Gaffney currently serves as the Vice President of the National Fans Association (ANT – Associação Nacional dos Torcedores, torcedores.org.br).

Professor Gaffney has written exclusively for TSG on the impending disaster of Brazil 2014 over the past two years.

You can find more of Gaffney’s writing on his own publication, Geostadia.

——

The past month has not been pleasant for Ricardo Teixeira.

The coming month will be even worse for João Havelange.

Teixiera. Out.

Citing reasons of health, Teixeira has resigned from his positions as the president of the CBF (Brazilian Football Confederation), president of the Brazil 2014 Local Organizing Committee, and FIFA Executive Board member.

Teixeria had been at the helm of the CBF since before the Berlin Wall fell and it was a position for which he was never qualified, either personally or professionally.

Well, personally, he was connected through marriage to Havelange who TSG readers will likely not remember as the president of the Brazilian sports federation CBD from 1956-1974 but will remember him as president of FIFA from 1974-1998.

The nonagenarian Havelange was admitted to the hospital last week and appears to be getting worse.

These two have been linked to the ISL/FIFA corruption and bribery scandal laid open recently by Andrew Jennings.

An anonymous plaintiff has petitioned the Swiss courts to hold the incriminating documents, ostensibly until the ink has dried on the obituaries.

Havelange and Teixeira leave a twisted, opaque legacy that will take years to sort through.

Havelange and a twisted legacy

As head of FIFA, Havelange coddled dictators in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay as well as in Africa and Asia. The one federation, one vote policy of FIFA (where the F.A. of São Tome e Principe has the same voting power as the USSF) allowed Havelange to exploit his significant wealth and influence to maintain power. It is important to note that Havelange’s family was extraordinary wealthy, their fortune coming from the international arms trade which ol’ João also reportedly dabbled in.

In true Latin American fashion, by distributing favors to the corrupt heads of corrupt football federations in poor nations, Havelange developed a clientelist constituency that allowed him to keep tight control over FIFA for decades.

Sepp-tic…

Havelange’s “child” is Sepp Blatter, who has run FIFA since 1998.

Things appeared to be running smoothly between the two for some years as FIFA increased its profits while running global football like feudal lords, much as Havelange had instructed.

The corruption scandals pursued by Andrew Jennings and the BBC have forced a rift between Blatter and the Havelange-Teixeira clan.

Throwing the nonagenarian and his patsy ex-son-in-law under the bus was probably the easiest thing to do in order to preserve the status quo. After all, Teixeira had backed Bin Hamman in the last FIFA election, but Blatter was quicker and smarter and had more information at his disposal. The whole story will take books and movies to tell as it has all of the elements of The Godfather, Witness, and Crimes and Misdemeanors.

In the coming week or months, as you read Havelange’s obituary, do not be fooled by the apolitical nature of the reporting.

Havelange long said, “I don’t do politics, I do sport”.

This separation is convenient for newspaper reporters who would like us to believe that we can effectively separate the two. In Brazil, this fallacy is particularly tedious as it complicates the public’s understanding of what is happening with the World Cup preparations. As if to underscore the collective weight that Teixeria and Havelange’s impending absences have lifted, Romário, now a federal legislator, said that Teixeira’s resignation was “like taking a cancer out of Brazilian football.” (Golaço.)

Despite the removal of this tumor, things are not well in the body of Brazilian football.

Ricardo Teixeria’s daughter, Joanna Havelange, is the Secretary General of the 2014 World Cup.

She is thirty three years old. Her qualifications for the job are the same as her father’s when we took over the outfit.

The week before he renounced his three positions of power, Teixeira received a unanimous vote of confidence from Brazil’s 27 state football federations, guaranteeing that there would be no political reorganization of either the CBF or Brazil 2014 if he were to leave.

Assuming his position at the head of the CBF is Jose Marin who was most recently seen in public stealing a winner’s medal from a junior’s tournament in São Paulo. There is no transparency in any of these institutions. There will be no change to the institutional structures of the CBF or the World Cup Organizing Committee or to FIFA which means that the game will continue along its corrupt and incompetent ways in Brazil. Even the national team is a disorganized mess that has long depended on individual brilliance to get to the quarter finals. I don’t know anyone in Brazil who has watched the recent friendlies.

Ronaldo has been placed at the front of the World Cup Organizing Committee as a smiling goofball–pardon–so to speak.

The first thing he said to reporters was, “You don’t host a World Cup with hospitals, you do it with stadiums.” So much for the use of the World Cup to improve the condition of health care in Brazil.

The stadiums will be ready (don’t even ask how much), the airports will not. Brazil is more expensive than the United States, Rio de Janeiro has higher commercial real-estate values than New York. Imagine what will happen when 50,000 Yanks try to get from Manaus to Salvador to see a second-round game. The flights will be stuffed, the airport capacity limited, the expense insane, the wi-fi at the airport overloaded as iphones and ipads frantically search for options. There won’t be any.

The dis-organization of the World Cup, the opacity of FIFA, the poverty of the Brazilian national leagues cannot all be attributed to the reign of Havelange and Teixeira. Getting rid of them is a necessary first step to reform, but their sclerotic legacy will likely take decades to rectify.

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21 responses to this post.

  1. Great article. Thank you guys so much for what you do here. It makes work that much more tolerable when I can take a break and read stuff like this.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/03/21 at 9:14 PM

      Andrew: Thanks for the note. I’ll pass along to Chris. Chris is swamped now, but he is going to try and interact within the comments if you have any questions. Best…

      Reply

  2. Posted by dikranovich on 2012/03/21 at 10:42 PM

    we must pray that brasil does not host this next world cup. afterall, it would not be the first time a host country has lost a world cup. brasil will probably pull it together though, but usa stands by, ready to roll. all is fair in love and war. usa needs to be slowly turning the screws on fifa.

    i dont think it is fair to be told that travel and expenses are going to be off the chart. this kind of chatter can scare fans away, when they are needed most. when we are needed most. brasil 2014 will be a fun party, and maybe you plan accordingly. maybe we need to qualify first. usa can start by jumping all over cuba tomorrow night, on the universal sports channel 625 on directv.

    Reply

  3. dikranovich,
    Thanks for your comment, but I disagree that it is not “fair” to report the reality of what is going on in Brazil. Fans are not needed the most in Brazil, decent public policy regarding urban planning, transparency in sport governance, and realistic expectations about how fans are going to get from one part of the country to another are. Travel and expenses in Brazil are ALREADY off the chart, so your 2014 party will be more expensive than you imagined. The problem is that the World Cup will also make everything more expensive for people who live here and they do not make their money in Dollars, Euros, or Pounds.

    as for praying that Brazil does not host the World Cup, can you imagine the sense of collective humiliation? I too used to think that the USA would be a better equipped host and it is in terms of hotels, transport, and basic infrastructure. But Brazil has gone about the process of spending tens of billions to welcome the world for a month. There are a lot of problems with this process, more than I can tell you here, but to desire that all those problems, public spending, suffering, forced removals, etc. have been undertaken so that the USA can spend its own billions to host the World Cup is a misuse of a prayer. And let us hope that football is more love than war, if not, the jumping on Cuba might repeat unfortunate historical precedents (as if the embargo weren’t enough).

    also, check out this report regarding the narrowly avoided disaster that was to have been USA 2018: http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2010-09-08/news/bs-ed-world-cup-bid-20100908_1_bid-committee-international-soccer-world-soccer-federation

    All may be fair in low and war, but global capital interests are beyond that. If you think the World Cup is something else, then please see my above comments about the de-politicization of sport.
    CG

    Reply

    • TSG & Prof. Gaffney. I am a sports fan. Have been all my life. But to be honest and transparent, I am very naive. Most times I never consider the economic/political ramifications of events such as this. You have opened my eyes to another facet of sport. I’m not sure I will enjoy it as much. One man once said, “ignorance is bliss”. I have been blissfully enjoying the game for along time. So as the girl from Caddy Shack said in her Irish accent “tanks for nuttin”. :) I appreciate the time and compassion for Brazil that is invovled in the article.

      Reply

      • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/03/22 at 7:23 AM

        I love your comment and may actually use it as a catalyst for an op Ed. Thanks

        Reply

  4. Posted by dikranovich on 2012/03/22 at 4:58 AM

    professor gaga, you will have to admit that baltimore economist are not going to be the best judges of soccer events, unless maybe it is indoor soccer. this dennis coates is not even a professor at the main umd campus. at least it is not maryland eastern shore though. the article suggest that washington dc lost 792 million in reduced incomes, what does that mean? is that part of the 9 billion number the article also talks about.

    i would like to go to brasil and root on my team. fans from around the world will be their and a brasil world cup of course has history for the american team. i want to go to brasil, maybe the answer is a visit to brasil the summer before 2014, just to get a feel about what to expect. hopefully some airports in brasil are better than others, im sure some stadiums are better than others.

    economics and soccer politics, if it is not a book title, it should be.

    Reply

    • Posted by dikranovich on 2012/03/22 at 5:22 AM

      another thing i dont like about the article is the fact that the author uses the montreal olympics as an example of mega event inflation, when he knows full well the cost of building the stadium in montreal was the major contributor to such huge cost overruns.

      Reply

  5. Posted by dikranovich on 2012/03/22 at 5:24 AM

    when im talking about not liking the article, i mean the one from the baltimore reporter, not from tsg or any scribes from universidad de flumenese. just so that is clear.

    Reply

  6. [...] ankle, but the Brazilian football federation said his condition improved slightly on Wednesday.Gaffney: The Slithering Path to Brazil 2014 Continues…The Shin GuardianHavelange's doctors trying to control infectionSI.comDoctor: Havelange has [...]

    Reply

  7. [...] The Shin Guardian breaks down the cesspits of corruption that are behind Brazil 2014. [...]

    Reply

  8. Fantastic stuff here Chris.

    Reply

  9. Posted by Gregorio on 2012/03/22 at 8:33 AM

    Great article one needs to continue to expose and put a spotlight on FIFA’s use of funds to influence the federations. Remember when each of the smaller federations got a million dollars to build up the sport in their countries? talk about corruption, influence peddling, quid pro quo, as Deepthroat gargled (PUN Alert) ” follow the money”.

    Reply

  10. Posted by Union on 2012/03/22 at 9:42 AM

    Matt, any chance we are going to get anything about the U-23s on here? Olympic qualifying tonight my dude.

    Reply

  11. Wow, this is fantastic. Thanks for hosting Professor Gaffner. So many don’t know what goes on behind the scenes in the lead up to the World Cup. Some of the things FIFA orchestrated in South Africa (deplacing thousands of residents from around the stadiums to name one) was just deplorable.

    Reply

  12. Posted by Crow on 2012/03/22 at 12:26 PM

    This is disturbing (especially the affect on Brazil) but I am still excited about attending my first World Cup with American Outlaws. This will probably be the one chance in my life to get to a World Cup (unless the USA ever hosts again) so I’m going to try to enjoy it and I hope it doesn’t ruin the lives of everyone in the country.

    I always prefer to be an independent traveler but I am so glad now I signed up for the AO package. The price is locked and very reasonable and its up to the travel agency to figure out the logistics so I won’t have that stress. Hopefully, things improve for the country and everyone attending so it can be a positive experience.

    Reply

  13. Posted by Crow on 2012/03/22 at 12:27 PM

    By the way is that picture of Sepp Blatter or Maurice Edu?

    Reply

  14. Posted by Tyrone on 2012/03/22 at 12:46 PM

    Dr. Gaffney,

    McGinlay and I loved the article. Reminded me of sipping Caipirinhas on the Copacabana. I hope all is well out there.

    Tyrone Petrakis

    Reply

  15. Thanks for the thoughtful comments everyone. The situation is a mess because of FIFA, yes. It is also a mess because of the particular way that all levels of Brazilian government have gone about the preparations. It is also true that the CBF is a black box and that the World Cup is a trojan horse that brings with it all kinds of nefarious things that sometimes don’t get discovered until years after the event. For instance, the new military gear and tactics bought for South Afirca is now being used to break labor strikes. The Olympics are worse only in that the concentrate everything in one city. The current mega-event model is built for and by the interests of capital. While in and of itself that is nothing new, the pernicious effects on places with already insanely high income inequalities (South Africa, India, Russia, Brazil) are exactly the places where FIFA and the IOC can do business. We’ll do our best to keep everyone up to date on the happenings, but as you can see, there’s a lot to keep track of.

    As I anticipated, the new CONMEBOL representative on the FIFA executive board is the president of the São Paulo football federation, little surprise that he was Teixeira’s right hand man at the CBF.

    Reply

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