On Thursday, the United States Men's National Team has the opportunity to do the unthinkable and advance to the World Cup's round of 16. Mere seconds away from accomplishing this feat when they faced off with Portugal on Sunday, the USMNT can again escape the "Group of Death." The World Cup is an event filled with such pageantry and grace, excitement and despair, it's no wonder that it is the single most-watched global event time and time again.
On the flip side of the joyous celebration being beamed into the homes of hundreds of millions of soccer enthusiasts is the path of destruction having started long before the players took to the pitch.
In the months leading up to the tournament, riots broke out across portions of Brazil, as newly-built stadiums displaced an unknown number of the country's poorest citizens.
It's rumored that Brazil spent a record $11.3 billion on preparations for the 2014 World Cup, according to Reuters, and much of the profit generated as a result of the event will make its way back to FIFA, soccer's perpetually scandal-hampered international governing body that just so happens to be exempt from Brazilian tax. A number of economists predict long-term struggles and an inability to break even for an economy already bogged down with record inflation.
Add to the pile the latest bit of controversy from Qatar, who, against all odds, was granted the rights to host the 2022 tournament. The country, whose population is roughly that of Houston, has a horrendous record on everything from labor rights and treatment of LGBT individuals to basic freedoms for citizens. Some allege that Qatar tried to "buy" the 2022 World Cup, and an ongoing investigation will determine whether there is any truth to these challenges.
Still, in the meantime, there's Brazil 2014. There's U.S. forward Clint Dempsey finding himself in the perfect goal-scoring position, and there's goalkeeper Tim Howard making improbable saves. There's midfielder Jermaine Jones surprising even himself with his long-distance score.
The world is watching, but what do they see? As was the case with Russia's turn hosting the Winter Olympics just weeks before mounting a siege on Crimea, the cameras show tourist-friendly imagery from Brazil, turning a blind eye to the riots and the protests, the destruction and the displacement. The harsh truths are not being shown, all in the name of sport.
Can we, with a clean conscience, pretend all is well in the land of global sport? Or is it time that we stand up and say no, this event is not worth a migrant laborer being worked to death? Is it time we say no, a single displaced family is one family too many? Is it time we say no to loading cash-strapped countries with billions of dollars in debt, money that could be spent solving problems like education, healthcare and housing?
Or do we watch on? So long as FIFA can turn a profit, they'll continue bleeding the world dry. I say we watch -- just this last time. We cheer our nation of choice but know that we will not be back to support future atrocities.
Let's make 2014 the year the world collectively said "no" to the destruction wrought in the name of capitalism. I, for one, am done.
Parker Marie Molloy is a media activist and RedEye special contributor. Parker's work has appeared in publications ranging from Rolling Stone to the New York Times to The Advocate Magazine.
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