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World soccer corruption, Africa’s ‘illicit financial flows’ and elite silences

Click for more on sport and capitalism, the soccer World Cup and articles by Patrick Bond

By Patrick Bond, Durban

June 3, 2015 -- originally published at TeleSUR English, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- The last week has provided extraordinary examples of how corruption erodes the resources and morals of an entire continent – Africa – in part because villains in South Africa made alliances with wicked brothers in Switzerland, Latin America, the Caribbean and, especially, the United States. We now know more about offshore centres of both reactionary finance and corrupt-corporate soccer. It’s long overdue they are exposed to a spotlight, even if those pointing that light want to leave certain features in the shadows.

On May 21, Africa’s "illicit financial flows" (IFF) looting was partially dissected by Nelson Mandela’s successor, Thabo Mbeki, in his urgent-sounding report to the African Union, Track it! Stop it! Get it! Mbeki’s bottom line:

Mike Marqusee: A level playing field? Global sport in the neoliberal age

The idea of sports competition as a mirror or metaphor for capitalist competition is misconceived.

Read more by Mike Marqusee HERE. Click for more on sport and capitalism, the soccer World Cup and cricket.

By Mike Marqusee

June 2, 2014 -- Red Pepper, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Mike Marqusee's permission -- One of the hallmarks of the neoliberal age has been the exponential expansion of commercial spectator sport -- in its economic value, political role and cultural presence. All of which will be thrown into high relief during the coming World Cup in Brazil.

'Não nos representam!' A left beyond the Workers Party?

Doesn't represent us

Activists discuss plan for free transit at the occupied municipal chambers. Bottom picture: outside the walls of the municipal chambers, “Não Nos Representam!” (Doesn't represent us).

[For more on Brazil, click HERE.]

By Manuel Larrabure

July 18, 2013 -- The Bullet -- It started as a good idea. Rather than taking the path of the old Latin American left, in the form of the guerrilla movement, or the Stalinist party, Brazil's Workers’ Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores, PT), aided by strong union and social movements, decided to try something new. The challenge was to somehow combine the institutions of liberal democracy with popular participation by communities and movements.

Brazil: 'Anti-capitalist left must contribute to the development of the movement' -- PSOL


More at The Real News

July 1, 2013 -- Real New Network -- Brazilian protesters force compromise for improvements in public services. President Dilma Rousseff conceded many of the demonstrators' demands, and called for a national compromise to improve public services, by investing 100% of Brazil Oil revenues in education and health care.

[For more on Brazil, click HERE.]

International Viewpoint -- This interview with João Machado was conducted by Juan Tortosa of the Swiss journal SolidaritéS on June 23 and June 27, 2013. João Machado is a member of the leadership of the Party of Socialism and Freedom (PSOL) and of the Enlace current within it.

* * *

Brazil: João Pedro Stédile of the MST: 'We are in the midst of an ideological battle'

[For more on Brazil, click HERE.]

João Pedro Stédile Interviewed by Brasil de Fato, translated for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by Federico Fuentes

June 24, 2013 -- Brasil de Fato -- It is time for the government to ally itself with the people or pay the price in the future. This is one of the evaluations of João Pedro Stedile, national coordinator of the Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST) on the recent mobilisations across the country.

According to Stédile, there is an urban crisis installed in Brazilian cities, provoked by the current stage of financial capitalism. “For people, large cities have becoming a living hell where they lose three or four hours a day in transit, which they could instead be using to spend with their family, studying or participating in cultural activities”, he says. For the MST leader, reducing public transport fare prices was of great interest to all the people and this was what the Free Fare Movement got right by calling for mobilisation on behalf of the interests of the people.

Ordinary Brazilians foot the FIFA bill -- some lessons from South Africa

[For more on Brazil, click HERE. For more on the soccer World Cup, click HERE.]

By Patrick Bond, Durban

June 24, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Over the last fortnight, Brazil’s millions of street protesters in 80 cities supporting the Free Fare Movement have declared how fed up they are with making multiple sacrifices to neoliberalism as revitalised by one Sepp Blatter, the Swiss emperor of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). While right-wing opportunists have been involved in some of the recent protests, the core grievances are apparently those of the left and of the disaffected youth.

Brazil: Massive protests fuelled by majority's lost expectations


Real News network report, June 24, 2013. More at The Real News.

[For more on Brazil, click HERE.]

By Charmain Levy

June 22, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The massive protests across Brazil have taken everyone – even the instigating group, the Movimento do Passe Livre (MPL, Free Fare Movement) – by surprise. Some international lefties and political analysts have repeated mainstream Brazilian journalists’ claim that they are the most important protests since the end of the military dictatorship in 1985. This is false.

Another Olympics is possible: the socialist sports movements of the past

For more discussion of issues surrounding sport and politics, click HERE. For more on the Olympics, click HERE.

August 7, 2012 -- As Mike Marqusee points out in an article posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, the modern Olympic Games are "a symbolic package: individual excellence at the service of the nation-state under the overlordship of multinational capital". Today, the domination of most sport by the capitalist corporations, crude nationalism and dog-eat-dog ideology is almost complete, occasionally challenged by the actions a few principled groups and individuals. But that was not always the case.

In fact, in the early decades of the 20th century, there were mass socialist-inspired workers' sports movements that sought, to varying degrees, to challenge capitalist control and ideology in sport. The goal was to organise working-class people through sport and leisure, and in some cases to attempt to fashion a new conception of sport.

South Africa: Public sector strike highlights post-apartheid’s contradictions

By Patrick Bond

August 22, 2010 -- The two major civil service unions on strike against the South African government have vowed to intensify pressure in coming days, in a struggle pitting more than a million members of the middle and lower ranks of society against a confident government leadership fresh from hosting the World Cup.

Along with many smaller public sector unions, educators from the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) and nurses from the National Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU) continued picketing schools, clinics and hospitals, leading to widespread shutdowns starting on August 18. Skeleton teams of doctors and military personnel were compelled to send non-emergency cases home.

In several confrontations with police at town centres, clinics and schools late last week, workers were shot with rubber bullets and water cannon. On August 21, the courts enjoined workers to return to jobs considered “emergency services”. In dozens of hospitals and clinics, military health workers took over.

South African soccer: For the love of the game or of money and power?

South African soccer star, the late Pule "Ace" Ntsoelengoe: “Soccer in South Africa needs to go back to where it was … the love of the game needs to be restored, especially in the administration. Soccer fans want to see us serve much better than we do today. The challenge is not how much money I leave behind when I die but to leave a legacy for my children and the youth of this country.”

By Dale T. McKinley, Johannesburg

July 7, 2010 -- The sun has almost set on the soccer World Cup and its seeming suspension of our South African "normalcy". No doubt, many will try their best to continue to bask in its positively proclaimed "developmental legacy"; but, as sure as the sun will rise on the morning after, so too will the reality of that "normalcy" bite us like an unhappy dog. Nowhere will this be more apparent than in the world of South African soccer itself.

Memperjuangkan Sepakbola: Apakah `permainan sedunia' ini permainan rakyat?

Oleh Duroyan Fertl

5 Juli 2010 -- Berdikari -- Piala Dunia FIFA 2010 di Afrika Selatan telah memulai putaran final 16 besarnya pada 26 Juni. Ia hadir di tengah dengungan terompet vuvuzela yang tak pernah surut, kekalahan tim-tim besar seperti Italia dan Perancis, dan aksi-aksi protes di jalanan oleh warga setempat yang marah atas dana 40 miliar rand yang dibelanjakan pemerintah untuk membiayai acara yang dikelola swasta ini. Sementara itu, kaum miskin Afrika Selatan menderita karena perumahan dan akses layanan mendasar yang di bawah standar.

Sepakbola adalah “permainan dunia” yang dimainkan oleh jutaan orang di seluruh dunia dan ditonton oleh ratusan juta lainnya. Tapi benarkah itu “permainan rakyat”?

Sepakbola itu sendiri seringkali merupakan suatu pertunjukan menegangkan yang menampilkan kepiawaian manusia. Suatu pertandingan sepakbola yang bermutu tinggi dapat dibandingkan dengan seni. Maka tak heran ia begitu populer di seluruh dunia.

South Africa: FIFA forbids free speech at World Cup

FIFA's attempts to silence anti-xenophobia activists hits the headlines in Durban.

By Patrick Bond

July 7, 2010 -- Acting against our alleged "ambush marketing" and "incitement" (sic), the South African Police Service, newly augmented with 40,000 additional cadre for the World Cup, detained several of us here in Durban last weekend. We were simply exercising freedom of expression at our favourite local venue, the South Beach Fan Fest, whose half-million visitors is a record.

Wearing hidden microphones so as to tape discussions with police leadership, what we learned was chilling, for they have received orders from Durban city manager Mike Sutcliffe that the property rights of the world soccer body, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), overrule our foundational constitutional rights.

“We can charge you and detain you until the 11th of July, [when] FIFA is over!”, a top officer shouted at me during my second interrogation, on Saturday, July 3.

Film: `A Place in the City' -- A world class city for whom? World Cup tourists and the rich, or the poor majority?

July 7, 2010 -- Abahlali baseMjondolo -- Sixteen years since apartheid ended, and amid the hoopla and false hopes promoted by the 2010 soccer World Cup, millions of black South Africans still live in self-built shacks – without sanitation, adequate water supplies or electricity. In Durban, almost in the shadow of the massive multibillion-rand Moses Mabhida stadium [paradoxically named after a veteran leader of South Africa's Communist Party], poor people are fighting for their right to live near work, schools and health facilities.

The fight for football: Is the `world game’ the people’s game?

Argentina's 2010 World Cup football team call for the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

By Duroyan Fertl

June 27, 2010 -- Green Left Weekly -- The 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa began its final round of 16 on June 26. It came amid the unrelenting drone of vuvuzela horns, the knockout of big teams such as Italy and France, and street protests by local residents angry at the 40 billion rand the government has spent on the corporatised event. Meanwhile, South Africa’s poor suffer substandard housing and access to basic services.

Football, or “soccer”, is the “world game”, played by millions of people around the world and watched by hundreds of millions more. But is it truly the “people’s game”?

On its own terms, football is an often thrilling exhibition of human skill. A high-quality football match commands comparisons with art. Little wonder, then, that it is so popular worldwide.

South Africa: FIFA, not migrants, are the real tsotsis

By Patrick Bond, Durban

June 25, 2010 -- South Africa's soccer-loving critics have long predicted the problems now growing worse here because of its World Cup hosting duties:

  • loss of large chunks of government’s sovereignty to the world soccer body FIFA;
  • rapidly worsening income inequality;
  • future economic calamities as debt payments come due;
  • dramatic increases in greenhouse gas emissions (more than twice Germany’s in 2006); and
  • humiliation and despondency as the country’s soccer team Bafana Bafana (ranked #90 going into the games) became the first host to expire before the competition’s second round.

Soon, it seems, we may also add to this list a problem that terrifies progressives here and everywhere: another dose of xenophobia from both state and society.

The crucial question in coming weeks is whether, instead of offering some kind of resistance from below, as exemplified by the Durban Social Forum network’s 1000-strong rally against FIFA on June 16 at City Hall, Durban, will society’s sore losers adopt right-wing populist sentiments, and frame the foreigner?

Football, sport and capitalism: Terry Eagleton 1 -- Dave Zirin 1?

Argentina's Lionel Messi.

Terry Eagleton: `Football -- a dear friend to capitalism'

By Terry Eagleton

June 15, 2010 -- The Guardian (UK) -- If the [new British] government is bad news for those seeking radical change, the soccer World Cup is even worse. It reminds us of what is still likely to hold back such change long after the coalition is dead. If every rightwing thinktank came up with a scheme to distract the populace from political injustice and compensate them for lives of hard labour, the solution in each case would be the same: football. No finer way of resolving the problems of capitalism has been dreamed up, bar socialism. And in the tussle between them, football is several light years ahead.

South Africa: `World Cup for all! People before profit!'

By Kamcilla Pillay

June 17, 2010, Durban -- Daily News -- The sound of vuvuzelas cut through the air in Durban on June 16 -- but for one large group there was little to celebrate. Amid cries of phansi ngama-fat cats, phansi (down with fat cats, down) and a sea of banners proclaiming the government cared only for the rich, civil rights organisations took to the streets protesting against poor service delivery and the World Cup.[Photos below.]

Abahlali Base Mjondolo, KwaZulu-Natal Subsistence Fisher's Forum, Clairwood Social Forum and about 17 other organisations gathered for what they dubbed an "anti-Thiefa" protest march which started at Dinizulu Park and ended at City Hall yesterday.

South Africa: The myths and realities of the FIFA soccer World Cup

By Dale T. McKinley, Johannesburg

June 15, 2010 -- Offering an unapologetic public critique of the FIFA Soccer World Cup at the height of the collective frenzy of positive expectation, feel-good nationalism and general public excitement that now exists in our country is a risky thing to do. But it is a risk that needs to be taken precisely because, no matter what the context, myths always need to be separated from realities. In the case of the "greatest show on Earth", leaving aside the very real beauty and enjoyment of the game of soccer, the myth-making has created a situation akin to inhaling tik -– a short-lived high/euphoria that obscures all reality, followed by a rapid, depressing "come down" back to that reality.

World Cup in South Africa: Six red cards for FIFA


Democracy Now! June 11, 2010 -- Raj Patel on how South Africa has cracked down on the poor and the shack dwellers’ movement ahead of the World Cup. Read the full transcript HERE.

[See also ``2010 World Cup: Africa's turn or turning on Africa? A political economy of FIFA's African adventure''.]

By Patrick Bond, Durban

June 11, 2010 -- The soccer World Cup began this weekend here in South Africa, with the home team playing a 1-1 draw with Mexico before 95,000 fans at Johannesburg’s Soccer City stadium.
Regardless of whether South Africa’s Bafana Bafana (our boys), ranked #90 in the world, can survive its next matches against France and Uruguay to advance a round, we know this society is already a big loser. The reason: egregious mistakes made by national and municipal governments, apparently under the thumb of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).

A barrage of flag-waving, vuvuzela-blowing hypernationalist publicity cannot drown out at least six critiques of the World Cup:

1) dubious priorities and overspending;

2) FIFA super profits and political corruption;

3) heightened foreign debt and imports amidst generalised economic hardships;

2010 World Cup: Africa's turn or turning on Africa? A political economy of FIFA's African adventure


PowerPoint slideshow by Patrick Bond.

[See also South Africa: Will the World Cup party be worth the hangover? by Patrick Bond.]

By Ashwin Desai and Goolam Vahed

[This article first appeared at Soccer & Society, volume 11, issue 1 & 2, January 2010.]

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