With Brazil’s World Cup Over Focus Now Shifts to Russia and Qatar

I want to start by saying that I am in no way a soccer fanatic or expert. I did not watch much during the tournament except for bits and pieces when the US team had a match. However, my expertise of the game, or lack thereof, will not be needed for my analysis. I will not discuss the scores of matches, how many times red cards were handed out, or how many games were won in extra time. What I kept thinking about was the controversy surrounding not only this year’s World Cup in Brazil, but the World Cups in Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022.

Brazil’s World Cup

One of the best pieces of coverage about the controversy surrounding the World Cup in Brazil, and FIFA itself as organization, aired on Last Week Tonight with Jon Oliver[1]. In the segment Oliver details not only the rumors dealing with the history of bribery, but also the hypocrisy around FIFA calling itself a non-profit organization. He also highlights how FIFA uses its power to strong arm countries into writing new laws or changing current laws to benefit them. Some of the highlights from the segment are:

  • The government of Brazil spent more than 11 BILLON dollars getting ready for the World Cup.
  • The new stadium in the city of Manaus, which cost 270 MILLION dollars to build, only hosted 4 World Cup games. (If you do the math that came out to 67.5 MILLION dollars a game. Keep in mind Manaus does not have a soccer team).
  • When it comes to World Cups FIFA, not the hosting country, is usually the one getting most of the money.
  • FIFA and their subsidiaries are exempt from the hosting country’s tax codes. That’s 250 MILLION dollars in taxes in the country of Brazil.
  • Due to a high death rate concerning alcohol and fans, in 2003 the Brazilin government banned alcohol in stadiums. However, the government later passed, thanks to pressure from FIFA, the ‘Budweiser Bill’ (Budweiser is a FIFA sponsor) that gave permission to sell beer in stadiums during World Cup matches.
  • FIFA spent 27 MILLION dollars creating the movie ‘United Passions’ to let the world know, according to them, how ‘great’ FIFA is.
  • In 2022 the country of Qatar will be hosting the World Cup. In the summers there the temperatures can reach up to 122 degrees.
  • Former vice president of FIFA Jack Warner resigned after bribery accusations (reportedly received 2 million dollars for his vote giving the World Cup to Qatar).

For those of you who may want to watch the segment in its entirety: 

Did Russia and Qatar Help Each Other Win World Cup Bids?

Now that the 2014 World Cup has ended the focus has shifted to the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. In an article written by BBC Sports[2] it discusses what it says are several leaked e-mails in which former FIFA vice-president Mohamed bin Hammam:

  • Visited Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin to discuss “bilateral relations” between Russia and Qatar a month before the votes for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
  • Brokered government level talks for Thailand’s Fifa executive Worawi Makudi to push a deal on importing gas from Qatar to Thailand. Makudi told the paper he did not receive a concession for his part in any gas deal.
  • Invited Germany’s former Fifa executive Franz Beckenbauer to Doha just five months after the vote with bosses from an oil and gas shipping firm which was employing him as a consultant. The firm involved says it was exploring possible Qatari investments in the shipping and maritime sector but that no deal ever came from the talks. When approached by the Sunday Times, former German international Beckenbauer declined to comment.
  • Fixed meetings between nine Fifa executive committee members, including Blatter, with members of the Qatari royal family.
  • Arranged a meeting between the Qatar bid team and Uefa boss Michel Platini at European football’s headquarters in Nyon. Platini, who has openly admitted voting for Qatar, says Bin Hammam did not attend the meeting and insists he has nothing to hide.

 

A Bribery Scandal Is Not The Only Thing Plaguing The 2022 World Cup.

In an article written on MotherJones.com by Sam Brodey titled “A Guide to the Scandals Plaguing the World Cup”[3] he points out terrible treatment of the workers responsible for creating the new stadiums and buildings that will be host to the World Cup matches and ceremonies. According to the article 1,200 workers have died since it was announced that Qatar won the bid to hold the World Cup. Most of the workers come from South and Southeast Asia and they cannot leave Qatar without the written permission of their employer.  Kafala[4] is a system in which a worker is contracted to his employer for a period of time. The problem arises when the employer will not pay the money the worker was promised, and in many cases not pay them at all. They are not able to look for better jobs because the employer has their passport. They cannot leave the country and could be there working for an indefinite period of time.

ESPN’s investigative program E:60 did an a piece documenting worker abuse, high rate of worker death and the slavery-like system in which the workers and their employers operate. In the video Jeremy Schaap spoke to Sharan Burrow, the General Secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation[5] (ITUC). The organization’s mission is to defend workers rights around the world.  Burrow has visited Qatar 12 times since 2010 and refers to it as a “slave- state in the 21 century.”[6] Workers are not to be around Qatari citizens and are placed in workers camps. These camps are crowded and have horrible sanitary conditions where the air is permeated with smell of fecal matter. Burrow states that more than 4,000 workers will die before a game is even played in 2022.

 In Qatar and Russia Homosexuality Is Illegal

Qatar’s multiple human rights violations of its workers are not the only thing tarnishing the 2022 World Cup. The country’s antigay laws are also drawing criticism. In Qatar homosexuality is illegal and there have been documented cases for foreigners being deported or imprisoned. In a 2010 article in The Guardian the president of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, when asked about the concern about the way LGBT fans may be treated when they attend the games he was quoted as saying that they “should refrain” from homosexual activity[7].

Russia has had its own documented history of mistreatment and discrimination associated with their antigay laws. If you watched even a small portion of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi you may have come across news segments where Russia’s enforcement of their antigay laws came under fire. In an article that appeared on MotheJones.com in August of 2013 titled “How Russia’s Anti-Gay Law Could Affect the 2014 Olympics, Explained” the writers detail what the law entails and the consequences one faces if they break that law. The law, Article 6.21 of the Code of the Russian Federation on Administrative Offenses, states that a person can be fined if they are “accused of spreading ‘propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations amongst minors’ between 4,000 and 1 million rubles ($120 to $30,000). It passed by a vote of 436-0. A law passed in 2012 also bans gay-pride events in Moscow for the next 100 years.”[8] There have also been cases of beatings and torture of persons within the LGBT community, both by other citizens, who feel that being a homosexual is wrong, and by the police.

What Does the Future Hold?

Will Russia and Qatar fix the issues plaguing them before their respective World Cup’s? The thing is no one really knows. If they do not, one can expect loud protests in the streets and a real chance of violence. If FIFA and the host countries don’t find a resolution then we, as a whole, could wind up talking about politics and laws instead of the games themselves.

 

Works Cited

 

[1] “FIFA and the World Cup .” Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. HBO. 8 June 2014. Web. 17 July 2014. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DlJEt2KU33I&feature=kp&gt;.

[2] “Qatar 2022: Fifa sponsors back corruption investigation.” British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) . N.p., 9 June 2014. Web. 17 July 2014. <http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/football/27751265&gt;.

[3] Brodey, Sam. “A Guide to the Scandals Plaguing the World Cup.” Mother Jones. N.p., 12 June 2014. Web. 17 July 2014. <http://www.motherjones.com/media/2014/06/fifa-world-cup-scandals-brazil-qatar&gt;.

[4] Khan, Azfar. “Why it’s time to end kafala.” The Guardian. N.p., 26 Feb. 2014. Web. 17 July 2014. <http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/feb/26/time-to-end-kafala&gt;.

[5] International Trade Union Confederation. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 July 2014. <http://www.ituc-csi.org/&gt;.

[6] “Qatar’s World Cup.” Host Jeremy Schaap. E:60. ESPN. 1 June 2014. Web. 17 July 2014. <http://www.espnfc.com/video/latest-videos/600/video/1857246&gt;.

[7] Gibson, Owen. “Fifa boss tells gay fans: ‘Don’t have sex at Qatar World Cup’.” The Guardian. N.p., 14 Dec. 2010. Web. 17 July 2014. <http://www.theguardian.com/football/2010/dec/14/fifa-boss-gay-fans-no-sex&gt;.

[8] Levintova, Hannah, and Ian Gordon. “How Russia’s Anti-Gay Law Could Affect the 2014 Olympics, Explained.” Mother Jones. N.p., 16 Aug. 2013. Web. 17 July 2014. <http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/08/sochi-olympics-putin-anti-gay-law-explained&gt;.

 

Mark Cuban Says In Radio Interview: “If I think the ethical thing is to vote the other way of the 29 other guys, I will.”

On May 29th  Mark Cuban said, during an interview on Spike Lee’s radio talk show on SiriusXM NBA Radio[1], concerning the vote to oust Donald Sterling, that if he had to vote differently than the other 29 owners he would have. Here are some highlights (or lowlights depending on your opinion) of what he said:

“I don’t know. If I think the ethical thing is to vote the other way of the 29 other guys, I will. I haven’t made up my mind on anything because I don’t know all the details. I’m not going to jump to conclusions. It’s not fair to the process. Mess up the process and then he (Sterling) has a lawsuit forever. I’m not going to know until I hear the presentation (June 3). What he (Sterling) said was awful. It was horrific, it was racist. There’s no place for it in the NBA, but it’s not going to force me to make up my mind without hearing all the facts. When all this went down, I was probably the only owner that sat down with all my players and we discussed everything. Everything. Everybody’s gotta be careful because everything has changed. And that’s the slippery slope, part of the slippery slope I talked about. We’re all going to be held to a different standard going forward.”[2]

From what I can surmise from his words he feels that even though he might disagree and even find disgusting what Sterling said he wants to protect himself on two fronts. The first being that if the league were to conduct things too rapidly and mess up anything with the legal process then Donald Sterling could have legal grounds to sue the NBA. The NBA has lawyers and so does Sterling, and if he wanted to he could drag this issue on forever. That, in turn, could look bad for the league and affect the owners bottom lines. Mark Cuban is not only an NBA owner, but he is also an entrepreneur and business man. He may see voting to oust Sterling as a bad business move in the long run. The second has to do with setting a precedent. Again, even though what Sterling said was reprehensible, Cuban may want to guard himself and other owners from having their team possibly stripped from them because of something they said in what they thought was the privacy of their homes.  The words don’t necessarily have to be racially charged, but it could be a myriad of things from having affairs or having arguments with your spouse. If the NBA decided to say that those supposedly private actions hurt the image of the league, could the owner then be stripped of their team?

To hear the complete segment click below or follow the link:

https://soundcloud.com/siriusxmnba/mark-cuban-says-he-doesnt-know-how-he-is-going-to-vote-on-donald-sterling-siriusxm-nba-radio

 

 

What Do You Think?

 

Works Cited

[1] SiriusXM Radio. Web. 2 June 2014. <https://www.siriusxm.com/siriusxmnbaradio&gt;.

[2] “Mark Cuban on Why He Hasn’t Decided How He’ll Vote on Donald Sterling Issue.” SportsDayDFW.com. Dallas Morning News, 29 May 2014. Web. 2 June 2014. <http://www.dallasnews.com/sports/dallas-mavericks/headlines/20140529-mark-cuban-on-why-he-hasn-t-decided-how-he-ll-vote-on-donald-sterling-issue.ece&gt;.

 

My Journey to IWD and Interview with Rachel Pires

“What medical insurance do you have?” How would I know such a simple question during a routine physical would lead me to a place so awesome!

Me: I don’t have medical insurance.

Doctor: When you go to the doctor, how do you pay?

Me: Usually out of pocket.

Doctor: Do you know about IWD?

Me: No. What’s that?

Doctor: It’s a place that offers medical services to young girls and women with physical disabilities.

Me: Oh. OK

Doctor: I’ll e-mail you the information so that you can contact Connie Lam, the Project Coordinator so that you can have a meeting with her and she can then set you up with Rachel, the social worker, and she could possible help you out on getting health insurance.

Me: OK. Thanks.

Connie Lam, Project Coordinator

And that’s how I found out about IWD, in case you were wondering, which you were. Well, maybe not exactly in those words, but give me a break. This was a year ago. Long story short I met with Connie, a Baruch Alumni (shout out!), and we shared our Baruch horror stories. A week or so later I began going there.

That’s where I met Rachael Pires.

Pires has been a Social Worker at IWD for five years. She is in her late 20’s. When it comes to describing her job Pires says: “My role is to provide emotional support to the women of IWD – this is conducted through various roles. I provide individual and group counseling and assist participants in connecting with other women who have similar concerns and issues due to their health/disability.”

Rachel Pires, Social Worker

She continues: “I provide mental health consultation to medical and wellness professionals in our center Additionally, I also provide orientation to IWD medical and wellness services; and information/referral to community resources.”

When it comes to her job Pires says: “I enjoy my job as it gives me the opportunity to empower the participants of our program to advocate for their own needs. I appreciate the opportunity to enable participants to explore new ways of living with a physical disability.”

When it comes to how Pires feels about the IWD she says: “IWD provides one-of-a-kind gynecological, medical and wellness services for women and adolescent girls with physical disabilities. This program provides services that were once inaccessible to women with physical disabilities due to financial and accessibility issues.”

She goes on to say: “I have seen visible changes in the women who come into our program. For instance, before they begin a fitness class such as belly-dancing, you can see that they are seeking support and understanding. When they come out of the class, you can see that they are a different person. They no longer feel isolated and alone, they are more in touch with their body and their inner self. It is amazing to see this change in the participant; it is a unique transformation which is truly encouraged and empowered by IWD staff.”

A Program That Women Don’t Know About, But Should

When I first went there I thought to myself “Why didn’t you do this sooner. You’re such an idiot.”

The Initiative for Women with Disabilities, also known as IWD is located at 17th and Lexington and 2nd Avenue. It is a part of NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases and is located on the 5th floor. It offers health and wellness services for women with physical disabilities. It has been around for ten years.

Suzette Morgan is 24 years-old. She lives in Elmont, Long Island.  As an Executive Assistant she provides administrative support to the Director of IWD, Judith Goldberg, as well as to the clients and departmental staff.

Suzette Morgan, Executive Assistant

Morgan says “I love my job. I love seeing the smiles on the women’s faces. I love helping people.”

When it comes to describing the IWD Morgan says “I think it’s a very good program. There’s nothing like it out there. We’re a one of a kind center. When people find us; the joy that it brings to them because they have been searching for something like this forever and can’t find it.”

Morgan thinks that there should be more programs like this because there are many people out there who are looking for those services.

The wellness services they offer include: Acupuncture, Reiki, Nutrition, and Message (which I absolutely must try!) and Reflexology (I have to say from experience; it is awesome!).

The medical services they offer include: Gynecology, Mind Body Physical Therapy, and Primary Care.

If you or anyone you know is interested in learning more about IWD or want to join you can contact them at: The Initiative for Women with Disabilities
Elly & Steve Hammerman Health and Wellness Center

NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases
301 East 17th Street, Suite 551
New York, NY 10003 Telephone: (212) 598-6429
Fax: (212) 598-6512
Email: iwd@nyumc.org