World Cup begins as controversy swirls around Brazil, Qatar, FIFA

FIFA World Cup Trophy, Team, Players Wallpaper.

FIFA World Cup Trophy and players who will be participating in the tournament.

By Carmen Glover

Soccer fans around the world can finally borrow a line from rapper Fabolous or country singer Faith Hill and “Breathe!” Yes, the beautiful game of soccer, known around the world as football, will be on full display today, as the tournament opens on June 12 in Brazil. The World Cup is expecting to attract significant attention since it is being hosted in the country which has won the most titles, five in all, making Brazil soccer’s home.

Brazil's players line up for a team photo before their Confederations Cup Group A soccer match against Japan at the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia June 15, 2013. (Front row L to R) Oscar, Dani Alves, Marcelo, Paulinho, Neymar, Luis Gustavo, (back row L to R) Julio Cesar, David Luiz, Fred, Hulk and Thiago Silva. REUTERS/Jorge Silva (BRAZIL  - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)

Brazil’s players line up for a team photo before their Confederations Cup Group A soccer match against Japan at the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia June 15, 2013. (Front row L to R) Oscar, Dani Alves, Marcelo, Paulinho, Neymar, Luis Gustavo, (back row L to R) Julio Cesar, David Luiz, Fred, Hulk and Thiago Silva. REUTERS/Jorge Silva (BRAZIL – Tags: SPORT SOCCER)

The Brazilian team, which is hoping to lead its country to its sixth World Cup, will play its opening game against Croatia at 4:00 p.m. in an unfinished stadium. The fame will be played amid protests from the Brazilian locals and controversy about corruption in FIFA and Qatar, the site for the 2018 World Cup. Despite the tumultuous period leading up to the World Cup opening day, FIFA President Sepp Blatter was re-elected to the top position this week, again proving that FIFA is its own fiefdom.

Sepp Blatter holds the FiFA Code of Ethics aloft after being re-elected as President this week.

Sepp Blatter holds the FiFA Code of Ethics aloft after being re-elected as President this week.

While discussions rage about the necessity for a revote in light of the corruption allegations about Qatar, Brazilian locals have been vocal and spirited in expressing their disgust with FIFA, the World Cup’s governing body, and the organizing committee in Brazil. Brazilians protested again on Tuesday, June 10 and Wednesday, June 11, even as teams were arriving for the World Cup, in a sign that protests will frame the backdrop of the games this year. Some teams, including the US national team, cancelled their practice matches due to concerns about congestion and safety.

Protestors in Brazil are pepper sprayed by police officers on Monday, as World Cup teams arrive for the game.

Protestors in Brazil are pepper sprayed by police officers on Tuesday, as World Cup teams arrive for the game.

The protestors have argued that instead of investing the more than $10 billion in preparing to host the World Cup, the focus should have been placed on crumbling infrastructure, poorly funded education, transportation and social sectors. Also, they have suggested that rampant improprieties took place with the World Cup funding, because the results suggest that massive theft of World Cups funds occurred, resulting in incomplete stadiums and tournament facilities while the funds promised to local Brazilian projects failed to materialize.

Brazilians continue to protest against misuse of funds for stadiums at the expense of basic programs such as education, healthcare and transportation.

Brazilians continue to protest against misuse of funds for stadiums at the expense of basic programs such as education, healthcare and transportation.

To say the protests and controversy is an inconvenience for FIFA and Brazil is an understatement. After all, Brazil possesses the most World Cup victories of any other nation, and is universally regarded as the country which pioneered the style of play that is often described as exuding finesse and beauty. For the residents of Brazil to organize years long protests is the last thing that FIFA, its president Sepp Blatter, the Brazilian organizing committee and soccer fans would expect.

pele

Soccer legend Pele, regarded by many as the best soccer star to ever play the game, has been a member of the organizing committee in Brazil but has been just as vocal in expressing his disgust with the incomplete World Cup infrastructure, the protests and alleged theft of funds.

Brazilian soccer icon Pele incurred the protestors’ wrath recently when he stated that the protests should have been staged in 2007 when the announcement was made that Brazil would host the World Cup, rather than in the months and days leading up to the tournament. Still, despite the protests and anger that now add to the World Cup flavor, the Brazilian team is expected to lead their country to the World Cup trophy so the players have danced a fine line between supporting the protestors’ right to protest, while seeking their support as the games get underway.

Aftermath of flood in Brazil which caused the deaths of more than 9 people on the eve of the World Cup games.

Aftermath of flood in Brazil which caused the deaths of more than 9 people on the eve of the World Cup games.

This is by no means an easy feat, as the eyes of the world are trained firmly on Brazil, now privy to all the problems that were not as publicized in the past.On Wednesday, one day before the World Cup, severe flooding left more than nine Brazilians dead, according to Good Morning America, further complicating the feverish attempts to salvage the pre-game preparations.

Anti-government protesters demonstrate at the security perimeter two kilometers (1.2 miles) from the Castelao stadium in Fortaleza where Spain and Italy are to clash in their FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 semifinal football match, on June 27, 2013. Riot and mounted police set up roadblocks on access roads leading to the stadium as several thousand young demonstrators peacefully rallied outside Ceara State University in Fortaleza Thursday, hours before the match. Nationwide anti-government protests in Brazil initially focused on a hike in transport fares before mushrooming to encompass a variety of gripes including corruption and the lack of investment in health and education as well as to denounce the high costs of hosting the Confederations Cup and next year's World Cup.   AFP PHOTO / YASUYOSHI CHIBA        (Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)

Anti-government protesters demonstrate at the security perimeter two kilometers (1.2 miles) from the Castelao stadium in Fortaleza on June 27, 2013. Riot and mounted police set up roadblocks on access roads leading to the stadium as several thousand young demonstrators peacefully rallied outside Ceara State University in Fortaleza. Nationwide anti-government protests in Brazil initially focused on a hike in transport fares before mushrooming to encompass a variety of gripes including corruption and the lack of investment in health and education as well as to denounce the high costs of hosting the Confederations Cup and next year’s World Cup. AFP PHOTO / YASUYOSHI CHIBA (Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, there has been no shortage of intrigue from some of the other participating teams. Striker Landon Donovan was dropped from the US team by its coach, former German soccer star Jurgen Klinsmann, Rossi was dropped by Italy while Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, still recovering from a leg injury, has voiced his certainty that his team will prevail to win it all. Stay tuned to OnPointPress.net for coverage of the World Cup and the  beautiful game of soccer.-OnPointPress.net.

Pele, Brazil, engulfed in turmoil, as World Cup tournament looms

Anti-government protesters demonstrate at the security perimeter two kilometers (1.2 miles) from the Castelao stadium in Fortaleza where Spain and Italy are to clash in their FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 semifinal football match, on June 27, 2013. Riot and mounted police set up roadblocks on access roads leading to the stadium as several thousand young demonstrators peacefully rallied outside Ceara State University in Fortaleza Thursday, hours before the match. Nationwide anti-government protests in Brazil initially focused on a hike in transport fares before mushrooming to encompass a variety of gripes including corruption and the lack of investment in health and education as well as to denounce the high costs of hosting the Confederations Cup and next year's World Cup.   AFP PHOTO / YASUYOSHI CHIBA        (Photo credit should read YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images)

Anti-government protesters demonstrate in Brazil as the World Cup nears.

By Carmen Glover

As soccer lovers wait impatiently for the World Cup tournament to begin in Brazil in June, reports continue to surface about the turmoil that has engulfed the host country due to deaths at construction sites, ongoing strikes by workers and outspoken comments by enduring Brazilian soccer legend and global icon: Pele, who has brought his country the World Cup championship three times and is now an adviser to the World Cup organizers

pele

Brazilian soccer legend Pele has accused the World Cup organizers of stealing the money that should have been spent on construction. He has been branded “a traitor” for  discouraging protests as the country prepares to host the World Cup games in June.

According to published reports, Pele has not been shy in voicing his outrage and disgust with his country’s poor handling of the preparations or accusing his countrymen of stealing the money allocated for the construction projects, resulting in the delays. Many of the stadiums that are slated to host games are still unfinished.  Brazil, which is regarded as the country that prides itself as the epitome of playing with finesse and charm is viewed as a mecca of soccer.

A boy holds up a banner as children sit at what is meant to represent a public school classroom, during a protest against the 2014 World Cup, organised by non-governmental organisation (NGO) Rio de Paz (Rio of Peace) at the Jacarezinho slum in Rio de Janeiro May 14, 2014.  REUTERS/Sergio Moraes

A boy holds up a banner as children sit at what is meant to represent a public school classroom, during a protest against the 2014 World Cup in Brazil on May 14, 2014.

Brazilians have been staging almost daily protests and telling soccer fans to stay home and refrain from going to Brazil to support the World Cup. Reports coming out of Brazil state that the residents are angry that money that should be spent on basic infrastructure and social needs are being used instead to build grand stadiums for the World Cup, while the citizens suffer. This has caused potential tourists and soccer fans to think twice about going to Brazil for the World Cup as they ponder their safety.

Members of Brazil's Homeless Workers' Movement (MTST), who are living at the "People's World Cup Camp" which houses some 2,800 families of the movement in the district of Itaquera near Sao Paulo's World Cup stadium, Arena de Sao Paulo, block a road during a protest against the World Cup in Sao Paulo, May 15, 2014. Brazilians opposed to the World Cup and the public funds spent on the construction of stadiums called for a day of protest around the country.  REUTERS/Nacho Doce (BRAZIL  - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP CIVIL UNREST)

Members of Brazil’s Homeless Workers’ Movement (MTST), who are living at the “People’s World Cup Camp” which houses some 2,800 families of the movement in the district of Itaquera near Sao Paulo’s World Cup stadium, Arena de Sao Paulo, block a road during a protest against the World Cup in Sao Paulo, May 15, 2014. Brazilians opposed to the World Cup and the public funds spent on the construction of stadiums called for a day of protest around the country. -Reuters.

It is impossible for soccer fans to ignore the plight of the Brazilians or dismiss their struggles. After all, every citizen has a right to expect a good quality of life and should expect governmental officials to allocate the nation’s funds appropriately.

protests

Protests have continued unabated in Brazil as the World Cup nears.

BBC Radio reported earlier this week that workers labeled Pele “a traitor” because he discouraged them from going on strike during the period when the country is preparing to host the World Cup. But long before the workers went on strike soccer lovers expressed concern about Brazil’s slow pace with constructing the sites for the World Cup matches, leading FIFA president Sepp Blatter to share his own concerns.

Sepp Blatter, FIFA President

Sepp Blatter, FIFA President is the face of the World Cup that is rife with controversy.

The turmoil that is roiling Brazil is the last thing that FIFA president Sepp Blatter needs as the days towards the tournament celebrating the beautiful game grow near. At the beginning of the year, Blatter did not mince words in assessing Brazil’s snail-like pace with preparations to host the World Cup.

protess

Brazilian protestors voice their concerns about misuse of government funds.

“It’s the country which is the furthest behind since I’ve been at FIFA,” he said, while also explaining that Brazil is the only country that had a seven-year period of time to prepare. However, the slow pace of preparation almost pales in significance to the concerns of the Brazilian residents who are exercising their right to protest. Their show of civil actions raise an important question: How would you feel if your basic needs were been ignored at the expense of a game that doesn’t benefit you?

People take part in the "Nao Vai Ter Copa" (You are not going to have Cup) protest along Brigadeiro Luis Antonio Avenue, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on January 25, 2014. Brazil was bracing Saturday for a first wave of nationwide demonstrations against staging the World Cup after activists from the protest group Anonymous went on social media calling for action. AFP PHOTO / Miguel SCHINCARIOL

People take part in the “Nao Vai Ter Copa” (You are not going to have Cup) protest along Brigadeiro Luis Antonio Avenue, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on January 25, 2014.

From all indications, the unrest and controversy that have engulfed Brazil’s preparations to host the World Cup have cast a pall over the games. This could ultimately dim the enthusiasm of soccer lovers, causing them to think twice about making the trek to Brazil, the heart of soccer, and opt instead to watch the games from the safety of their living rooms or sports bars. It would be hard to blame them, because safety comes first.  –OnPointPress.net.