The Last Word: High price of this World Cup

Hospitals with no beds after the tournament is over? Fifa don’t care. They got what they came for: money. This betrayal will set the tone for Rio 2016

There is always a reckoning. Retribution will not be restricted to the retaliatory brutality which ended Neymar’s World Cup, convulsed a continent and plunged Brazil into mourning for a favourite son. Deal with the devil and there is a price to be paid.

The betrayal which underpins this tournament, and will set the tone for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero, is of such magnitude that its impact will be felt for generations. Once the hallucinogenic qualities of an impossibly dramatic football festival recede, reality will reassert itself.

Defeat for the host nation, most likely against Germany in Tuesday’s semi-final, will revive eternal truths, supressed out of fear and fleeting respect for authority. It will refocus attention on social inequality, the fatal consequences of casual corruption, and amplify the words of Romario.

No one has better expressed the craven surrender to a colonising force, in return for a global showcase and the diversion of a yearning for success which borders on collective insanity, than the World Cup winner turned populist politician: “Fifa got what it came for: money.

“Things like transportation that affect the public after the tournament is over? They don’t care. You see hospitals with no beds, with people on the floor. You see schools that don’t have lunch for the kids. They found a way to get rich on the World Cup and they robbed the people instead. This is the real shame.”

History is an echo chamber. Just as Neymar’s fractured vertebra, sustained in a dubious challenge by Colombian defender Juan Zuniga was instantly linked to the infamous assault on Patrick Battiston by Harald Schumacher in the 1982 semi-final in Seville, the prevailing mood of hysteria invites comparisons with Argentina’s World Cup in 1978.

Harald Schumacher (right) charges out to collide with Patrick Battiston (left) in 1982 Harald Schumacher (right) charges out to collide with Patrick Battiston (left) in 1982 That was inherently more sinister, since the ticker-tape welcome and theatrical fervour camouflaged systematic torture and murder by a military junta, but it created a similar mood, a familiar deception. Mega events, like the World Cup and Olympic Games, are designed to dampen, or at least distort, reasoned debate.

Brazilian apologists for the status quo are increasingly resentful at the concentration of coverage in European and North American media on broader issues such as the poverty which pockmarks the favelas. They complain of simplistic social judgements and a lack of perspective.

The tournament has had a seismic influence, felt as keenly by an Algerian immigrant as an American president. It has dispelled myths, created villains and canonised its celebrities. God has been praised, loudly and proudly, even as the money-changers have returned to the temple.

Yet it has the superficialities of an estate-agent’s brochure. Jogo Bonito, the  so-called Beautiful Game, has long been a lazy stereotype. For all the joy generated over the last 24 days, the concept was butchered along with Colombia’s James Rodriguez, kicked out of the World Cup with the same relentlessness that diminished Pele in 1966.

Fifa, who appointed a supine referee to oversee a match that degenerated into a tag-team contest, have the calamity they deserve, an event stripped of Neymar, its defining personality. The mess will worsen when civil unrest inevitably resumes with a greater intensity.

Fifa will make an estimated $2.5 billion (£1.5bn) profit Fifa will make an estimated $2.5 billion (£1.5bn) profit Fifa’s president Sepp Blatter tempted fate when he claimed that “when the ball starts to roll, people will understand”. They understand alright. When the ball stops they will flood on to the streets, irrespective of the dangers. Blatter will leave the scene of the crime. Fifa will make an estimated $2.5 billion (£1.5bn) profit. For Thomas Bach, his equivalent on the International Olympic Committee, the nightmare of resentment, recrimination and institutionalised chaos is just beginning.

Time for a women’s Tour

Women’s sport has substance and momentum. It does not require the tokenism embodied by Susie Wolff, a Formula One driver under false pretences. Her one-lap appearance in the first practice session for today’s British Grand Prix was a revealingly crass stunt, an indication of commercial opportunism rather than commitment to equality. It was utterly out of touch with the times. Strategic investment has been made in women’s cricket. Football’s Super League is awash with positivity.

Olympic heroines may be fading from memory, but Jessica Ennis-Hill remains an antidote to the cynicism, expedience and denial which are slowly killing athletics.

Team GB's Laura Trott Team GB's Laura Trott Cycling, the modern boom sport, has admirable athletes. This year’s women’s Tour of Britain, a breakthrough event, provided the perfect platform for Emma Pooley, Laura Trott and Lizzie Armitstead.

Yet, despite another outbreak of tokenism, the addition of La Course, an elite race around Paris on the day of the men’s final stage, there is no female equivalent of the Tour de France. The riders argue, cogently and impressively, that they have the physiological capacity to endure a three-week stage race. They merely need – and deserve – the opportunity.

Murray will rise again

Pay heed to the more hysterical headlines, and Andy Murray will never win another major title. Alastair Cook should concentrate on sheep farming, and Bradley Wiggins might as well form a Paul Weller tribute band.

Society’s culture of instant disposability increasingly infects sport, yet the sight of Roger Federer in today’s Wimbledon men’s final, after dropping a single set and a solitary service game this fortnight, is a reminder of the permanence of class. He, too, was written off, prematurely and disrespectfully, last year. It may be fashionable to mock our best tennis player, an admirable cricket captain and a generation-defining cyclist, but it is also foolish. Their time will come again. 

Andy Murray reacts during his defeat to Grigor Dimitrov Andy Murray reacts during his defeat to Grigor Dimitrov A new Gaulden generation

Ryan Gauld no longer has to fear the Neanderthals of Scottish football. He has avoided the honey trap of the Premier League development system with his transfer from Dundee United to Sporting Lisbon. And when a young player of such promise and technical precision makes such a bold move, others will consider the advantages of exile. That can only be a good thing.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks