Priorities

There was an interesting take on the aftermath of the recent World Cup games in Brazil. The author nicely balances the pros and cons and leaves it to the reader to balance the two. For me, the cons greatly outweigh the pros: it is not just the USA that has its priorities skewed; the entire world seems to — as the article makes clear.

In the end, soccer’s governing body got everything it wanted – beautiful new stadiums, surprisingly efficient transportation, high-scoring matches, record TV ratings and a perpetual stream of images of fans having the time of their lives plastered all over social media. An even more significant victory was the muting of the protests that overshadowed last year’s Confederations Cup. They were nowhere to be seen, at least not within view of the international media’s cameras, as the focus remained squarely on the football much to the delight of FIFA president Sepp Blatter and Brazil president Dilma Rousseff.

But after traveling around the country and seeing the situation up close, it was clear that the outspoken proponents of improved services and functioning infrastructure were the biggest losers. Whether it was roads in desperate need of maintenance outside Natal or the abject poverty not far from Arena de Sao Paulo, you could understand why people here would gather and scream at the top of their lungs about $500 million spent on Maracana’s second renovation in seven years or the $300 million used to build a world-class soccer stadium in Manaus, an Amazonian jungle city with no top-tier soccer team and little use for a 40,000-seat venue requiring millions more to maintain.

Seriously?? A 40,000 seat venue in the middle of the jungle while thousands nearby cannot put food on their plates? Isn’t this a bit like fiddling while Rome burns??

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