Professor Christopher Gaffney updates TSG on Brazil 2014.
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.
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.
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.
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.