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.

Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Lewis Hamilton walks back to the pit lane with his Mercedes burning in the background
Formula 1
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con
comic-con 2014
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
A rub on the tummy sprang Casey back to life
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Tovey says of homeless charity the Pillion Trust : 'If it weren't for them and the park attendant I wouldn't be here today.'
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little