There’s Ugly Players in the Beautiful Game

By: Yolaan Begbie, David Klaubert and Manuel Medina

On 30 October 2007, Sepp Blatter announced Brazil would host the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Brazilians celebrated – the beautiful game would return to their beautiful country more than six decades since they hosted it in 1950.

Drago Kos: “I’m sure the bad guys are very happy Brazil will host the World Cup…” Picture by Virginie Nguyen

But while new stadiums are being built, and teams are training hard, there are others silently celebrating and preparing too. “I’m sure the bad guys are very happy Brazil will host the World Cup…” warns Drago Kos, International Commissioner at the Independent Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee in Afghanistan. The bad guys he’s referring to are not the soccer hooligans synonymous with the games. We’re talking criminals – men and women who operate a sophisticated syndicate to cash in on the multi-billion dollar event – or in this case, events with the Olympic Games also coming to the country in 2016. “When they send their infrastructure to the World Cup they just have to wait a few years for Olympics.” As a retired FIFA referee, Kos is familiar with the ugly side. He’s dealt with attempts of bribery before and knows just how intricate the network of these bad guys are. What is needed, he says, is a group devoted to sharing information about these illegal networks – not only during the World Cup, but now.

Manuel Medina – It’s a sense of urgency shared by other players involved in the games. To fight against corruption in sports in Brazil, not only during the World Cup and the Olympic Games, but also to leave a legacy for future athletes in Brazilian “desportes”, an Anti-Corruption Agency for Sports will be created. This announcement was made by Luis Antonio Paulino, Secretary of Football and Fan Rights in Brazil during the 15th International Anti-Corruption Conference. The overall idea is to combat corruption and resolve as promptly as possible any problems inside the different leagues and competitions in the South American nation.

As of right now, the country already has weapons to fight off the problem, thanks to the Sports Code independent from the state. This code has allowed quick and fair resolutions from different sports problems, allowing the civil justice to focus on bigger problems while giving athletic organizations the chance for justice. Paulino gave a quick example of problem solving when the home of São Paulo Futebol Clube, the Estádio Vila Belmiro, had no ambulance during a game; the other to investigate was given and a week did not pass without the problem solved.

As per Brazil’s law, article number 217 of the constitution gives autonomy to sports organizations, which gives them the freedom to conduct themselves on a proper manner without the intervention of the government. Luis Antonio Paulino gave his persona opinion on the matter and he would only change “the number of times a president of a sports organization can be re-elected”, as to stop “dictatorship” on “os desportes”.

The new agency doesn’t have a starting date yet, but it will be one of the best legacies the Brazilian government is working on to have “jogos limpios”, clean games.

"Corruption in Sports" panel. Picture by Manuel Medina

 

David Klaubert – They’ll also be wanting to make it a transparent one. To promote transparency about the construction work and all the public investment related to the World Cup 2014, the Brazilian government and the Federal Senate have set up two websites:

www.portaltransparencia.gov.br/copa2014/home.seam

www.copatransparente.gov.br

On these sites, the government promises to publish all information related to the construction work, particularly on the stadium and public transport projects. Every citizen shall be able to monitor public expenditure related to the World Cup. Information include estimated costs and the amount of money already spent during the works, the name of the contracted enterprises and the responsible persons.

But there are also critics: “The information we get is incomplete, contradictory and late. And frequently misleading,” said Castello Branco, the secretary general of Contas Abertas, a non-profit group, in an interview with Reuters. The data for stadiums, for example, is different on the sites. (For more information visit: www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/31/brazil-worldcup-idUSL1E8LUA8S20121031)

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