By Carmen Glover
This 2014 World Cup tournament in Brazil has featured a blend of football/soccer matches played against a backdrop of protests by Brazilian locals who are angry with the lavish spending for the tournament at the expense of infrastructure projects that they believe would benefit their country. While those protests have largely been kept away from World Cup lovers, the residue has permeated in some ways.
For instance, the news two days ago that two people were killed and ten injured due to a partial bridge collapse that trapped vehicles and passengers, gives credence to the pre-tournament allegations of shoddy work. These concerns need thorough investigations by FIFA officials to ensure that the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2022 tournament in Qatar meet standards. As those issues fade into the background, all eyes are glued to the exciting semi-final matches that indicate that FIFA World Cup 2014 is coming to a close.
Despite an inconsistent level of play during the tournament, Brazil is still standing and will face Germany on Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. on ESPN for a showdown to determine which team will move on to the World Cup Final. Brazil beat Colombia 2-1 in the quarter-final match while Germany beat France 1-0. Brazil’s games so far have exposed weaknesses that have surprised many fans of the football powerhouse. It has also appeared, at times, that the host country has benefitted from questionable calls by the referees, which only fuel the perception that FIFA is corrupt.
Brazil lost its star player Neymar in Friday’s match against Colombia to a broken vertebrae after failed t score in the game despite scoring a total of four goals in the World Cup. But Neymar did not seem to contribute much to the quarter-final match, whereas Brazil’s team captain Thiago Silva and his childhood friend, David Luiz, stepped up and scored the two goals for the team. Silva will miss the semi-final match after earning his second yellow card of the tournament. Luiz has been making a huge contribution to the Brazilian team and has endeared himself to fans with his energetic pre-game rendition of the national anthem, exuberant celebrations of his goals and his mid-field prayers, pointing skyward as he communicates with his creator.
Germany, on the other hand, has been solid and generally focused on winning it all with its strong, tough, defensive, style of play. By securing its semi-final berth, Germany became the only team in World Cup history to make it to the semi-final in four consecutive World Cup tournaments, making it clear that the country is akin to a football dynasty. The German players tackle their opponents mercilessly, attack the ball aggressively and dominate with stifling defensive plays. But Germany lost many fans as reports surfaced about racist comments made by some of its star players.
For years Germany has earned the respect of other countries due their dominant style of play but as the racism allegations plague their team it chips away at the luster the country has had in the World Cup and makes it difficult for non-Germans to support a team that seems to have so little regard tor other ethnic groups. It is unfortunate that the Germans continue to struggle with discrimination despite the country’s football prowess.
FIFA deemed Friday as “Anti-discrimination day,” and each team captain read a statement prior to both games, denouncing discrimination and racism in all forms. But Germany is not alone in having its team clouded by racism allegations. Luis Suarez, Uruguay’s and Liverpool’s infamous incorrigible biter, has been accused of uttering racist remarks. Meanwhile, fans in England, Italy and France are well-known for racist conduct that defies the boundaries of decency. One stark example is Italian fans regularly throwing bananas on the field at Italian star Mario Balotelli, in an act of vile racism that indicates that Italians cheer his talent but reject his ethnicity. Even in host country Brazil, there is an apparent emphasis on light complexion players and fans in the stadiums than their darker skinned counterparts.
FIFA Vice President and Chief of the Anti-Discrimination Task Force Jeffrey Webb has made it clear that racism and all forms for discrimination will not be tolerated by the organization. Lauding the NBA for its’ swift move to oust Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling after his racist rants, Webb said: on FIFA.com
“The NBA has set a new standard and I applaud them. They made a swift and concise decision. We need to do the same. We must have a zero tolerance,” Webb went on to say that teams and players should be banned from FIFA if they engage in any form of racism and discrimination.–OnPointPress.net.