Catholic News Service Clint Dempsey of the U.S. attempts to score between Portugal's Bruno Alves and Ricardo Costa during their 2014 World Cup soccer match at the Amazonia arena in Manaus, Brazil, June 22.
A soccer fan, Pope Francis praises how the FIFA World Cup breaks down linguistic, cultural and national barriers. The tournament unites people across the globe and reminds us that some of life’s most important lessons can be learned on the playing field — perseverance, friendship, solidarity and respect for your competition.
Unfortunately, FIFA and Brazil both get red cards this year. They have lost the ball for prioritizing corporate greed over the good of the Brazilian people.
Years before the games even started, Brazil’s residents began protesting the removal of entire communities to make room for enormous stadiums, which will largely be useless once the games are over. Brazilian bishops have criticized their country’s leaders for using public money on stadiums instead of “health, education, sanitation, transportation and security.”
These protests should be an opportunity to promote worldwide dialogue for change. But Brazilian officials advised law enforcement to use any means necessary to quell protesters’ voices, lest they develop into a distraction. By now, coverage of the unrest has been overshadowed by daily soccer scores. But our hope is that people everywhere will hold FIFA and the World Cup’s host countries accountable, demanding that corruption be controlled and citizens be treated ethically. They should work together to develop creative infrastructure that will benefit local economies after the games end.
Developing countries and emerging markets should have the opportunity to host, and they should also share the opportunity for profit. That helps defray costs to the people.