America Cup

Marina Gusmão, Creative Block.
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By NAIARA AGUILERA SOARES*

The incredible story of those who profit from death.

It could be a bad joke, or even one more of the “fake” news that we are strangely used to having to deal with. It could even be a script for a horror movie, an episode of the series “Black Mirror” in which an illegitimate ruler is forced to kill part of his population due to external, “occult” pressures and broadcast such a spectacle on television and digital media. of horror. No, this is not fiction. This is the newest news we are digesting in the current scenario of the insane genocidal policy of the president of this country. By agreeing to host a mega sporting event in Brazil, in the current scenario of political, economic, social and health crisis, which in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic has already criminally killed more than 469 Brazilian men and women, current President Jair Bolsonaro and his team of (mis)government attest once again that the life and safety of the population is of little importance, as long as capital follows its path and the profit of the “big men” can be guaranteed.

Holding the 2021 Copa America in Brazil is yet another demonstration that human life is worthless to capital. Football is a mass social phenomenon that presents historicity and dimensions that can perfectly be studied at the political, economic, social and ideological levels. Continuously analyzed by social scientists, it shows its intrinsic relationship with issues such as hegemony and power, with the political and economic crises of capitalism, national identity, the world of work, professionalization and social struggles of the so-called minorities (women, black men and women, LGBT's, etc. ) and we Brazilians are living proof of that. We love football, we consume football and we know that although converted into one of the most lucrative commodities over two centuries, football, in addition to moving the most humanly inexplicable feelings, also moves the greed and profit of multimillion-dollar companies interested in selling it as another product at the service of the same multimillionaire white men at the head of this great business.

The exorbitant investments in sport with characteristics of spectacle and maximum performance, as is the case of the 2021 Olympics in Japan and now the Copa América de Futebol organized by Conmebol and headquartered in a hurry in Brazil, have no time to lose, as time for capital in addition to money, it represents high profit rates for the business community involved in this large lucrative market that involves entrepreneurs, sponsors, advertising players and their big brands. The sports media cultural industry at the service of capital and limitless consumption, creates standardizing products and entertainment, largely manipulating the needs of individuals, their critical sense and even their patience to endure certain absurdities. The media and communication companies that hold the monopoly on the production and dissemination of this content are responsible for mediating and spectacularizing football, as it offers leisure and distraction in exchange for passivity and a brief oblivion of the country's social, economic and political problems. But are we so apathetic to the point of not realizing the priorities of the moment and the absurdities that are being committed by the (dis)government in the middle of the pandemic?

There was a time when most Brazilians stopped their lives to watch a Brazilian national team game and the greatest expression of that was always the Football World Cup games. The ancestral rebellion in favor of his people, his people, his country, to the point of missing work, school classes, leaving his boss in the lurch, squeezing himself into public places to watch the selection with much more collective ethyl emotion Scoring a goal and qualifying remains in the memory of those who lived through the 70s to the 2000s. Seeing the floors of the most popular neighborhoods painted by the community itself with a huge Brazilian flag, the classic pennants, or pieces of plastic with the colors green and yellow hanging from poles, the yellow jerseys of the national team, the noise of bombs and hysterical screams, all these symbolic and self-organized elements of our people constitute part of this collective memory. But it seems that even that has been taken from us. The satisfaction of feeling like a nation with self-esteem, since at least in football we still believed we were unique, artistic, proud. It was in this space that we could at least have the pleasure of avenging "in sports" all the suffering and dependence that the colonization of the past and the imperialism of the present force imposed on us throughout our history. But we are in a different time. Since the 2016 political coup that removed President Dilma Rousseff from office and all the maneuver that followed with the help of the media, judiciary, and parliament in the 2018 elections, culminating in the victory of Jair Bolsonaro and his troop of military and militiamen, including their children, that the Brazilian people do not have a day of peace and pride.

Many thinkers, politicians, intellectuals, men and women, were concerned with analyzing the football phenomenon in depth and reason. One of them was Lima Barreto, a brilliant black journalist and writer, with a vast body of work in periodicals of his time, known for his scathing criticism of the racist and elitist nature of this sport, which was already showing interest on the part of the country's white and wealthy middle and upper classes in the beginning of the XNUMXth century. In one of his criticisms of football, Lima Barreto went so far as to state, and this can be proven in the historical records of newspapers at the time, that this sport was presented as a strategy for eugenics and the improvement of the race in Brazil. For this author, the elite that dominated football directed the same decision-making bodies as the State and was an instrument of political-ideological domination at the service of a class, which was obviously not the working class. In addition to opposing football, he believed in Capoeira as the genuine national sport. Much of what this brilliant intellectual wrote bore the mark of racism and social prejudice that he suffered throughout his brief life, but which did not escape the necessary debate of our century and was one of the forerunners of a realistic and critical approach. society and football. Despite not being right in the prediction that football would not have space to become popular in our country, being today the sport most practiced and consumed by Brazilians, Lima Barreto was right when he wrote that football served as a political and ideological instrument at the service of of white elites and capital and these same elites were not concerned with participation, but with profit above all and professionalization above all.

Another prominent Brazilian intellectual who greatly admired football and even wrote chronicles in newspapers of the time on the subject was the poet and columnist Carlos Drummond de Andrade. One of the greatest poets of our literature once said that in football, each club does not have a crowd, it has an organized party, and they ally or separate depending on the misfortunes of the championship. Bringing this statement into the present can even demonstrate our fragility as a class, which have had even more difficulty organizing themselves to defend basic rights already acquired and not accepting the imposed setbacks, such as the Social Security Reform and the Outsourcing Law. The “championship” of the political moment for us is not being merely unlucky, but has been shamelessly manipulated, deceived, cheated by authoritarian and pro-fascist judges in the “field”.

The television media has a questionable cushioning role, since on the one hand it allies with the interests of capital by profiting from advertising and product sales during the transmission of these games, and on the other hand, it makes sporadic criticism directed at some managers, selectively and sensationalist, but nothing that changes the game of interests placed there. A question is appropriate here: Is televised football what Karl Marx called his time regarding religion, as the modern “opium of the people”? Or does religion continue to fulfill this objective in isolation? Can we say that these two complex cultural elements produced by humanity contribute to alienation, passivity and conformism in the face of social problems that society faces in the midst of the current crisis of capital? For complex questions, the answers can never be simple. Nor do I intend to exhaust the discussion in this short text, but we can state that these and other strategies of the capitalist system, in addition to police repression by the armed state, have proven effective in numbing and disorganizing the class. Sport, and more specifically football, as previously mentioned, are human productions and reflect the stage of development of certain social realities. Sport is not only a product of capitalism, but inserted in this economic system, it meets the needs mainly of those who command it. It is capitalist society that transforms everything into merchandise, but we can and should think that another logic is possible for social relations that are not based solely on private interest and the exploitation of our work and the occupation of our “free” time.

For the Egyptian Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm, although transformed into a mass spectacle, there is also in sport, and in football in particular, a strengthening of the nationalist ideal and identification of individuals with the nation that is part of global life and also expresses disputes between nation-states, which carry concepts such as “race” and “nation” laden with subjectivism and symbolism that are beyond orthodox Marxist interpretations. That is, when analyzing the sporting phenomenon, it is necessary to have an expanded, overcoming look, which glimpses not only the explicit economic and material issues of our time, but which recognizes the power of ideas, of the collective imagination, which mobilizes and questions sport when politicized. and allied with anti-capitalist, anti-racist and feminist struggles. But what about the Copa America in Brazil? What does it all have to do with it?

At the beginning of the week in May, we were surprised by the news that Brazil will host the 13 Copa America football between June 10th and July 2021th. amid the troubled political situation and global pandemic. The current government of Colombia, a country that since the end of April has been experiencing a political moment of intense popular mobilization against conservative measures of the current right-wing president and lackey of the US Empire Iván Duque, had to backtrack on its tax reform project and the recent resignation your finance minister. In the middle of the pandemic (recording more than 90 deaths) the country's social movements are still bravely mobilized in the streets in defense of basic rights, demonstrating that the reform was just the last straw for the revolt in the country. In the remote possibility of assuming the organization of the event alone, Argentina on May 30 also retreats due to the worsening of the new coronavirus pandemic. In less than a day (May 31), Brazilians would learn through the media that the entity that organizes the event, CONMEBOL, would publish on social networks a thank you “to President Jair Bolsonaro and his team, as well as CBF, for opening the doors of the country”.

Conclusion

Apparently, opening the country's doors to foreign capital is a specialty of the Bolsonaro government, which ignores the reality of constant mourning and struggle for the countless lives lost as a result of the new coronavirus. From the feeling of impotence and revolt in the face of the president's refusal to repeatedly offer vaccines, as exposed in the recent episode of the COVID CPI. From the discouragement and unemployment that have led many Brazilian families to the despair that hunger and misery generate. Of the risks that experts point out to increasing the chance of having new strains of the virus and further aggravating the chaotic situation that the public health system is experiencing. Whether the tournament would bring economic advantages to the country, however, we have no guarantees. However, it is known that multimillion brands such as Bridgestone, Santander, Gatorade, Amstel and Nike, continue to be official sponsors of CONMEBOL tournaments and the TCL Electronics brand, one of the main representatives of the global television industry and the fastest growing brand in the world, also announced the official sponsorship of Copa América 2021 in Brazil. We would not be naive enough to believe that these brands would simply be providing a service to the Latin American population and football without gaining anything in return, since even without the participation of the public in person at the games, the amounts of money that are transacted are beyond what the entity disclosed in its official financials. Millions of dollars that will be given in prizes to the winning teams, which could be used in the South American continent for purchases of vaccines, expansions and improvements in the public health system, more jobs, aid, etc.

The only guarantee is that we will continue fighting to contain the most lethal virus in the country's history, without the help of the government, only with the help of the leaders of the most sensible states and municipalities and the countless individual and collective initiatives of people, entities and social movements, which educate through example and solidarity. Let us still fight for the democratization of the media and the democratization of football, because we are talking here about a men's tournament that moves millions, but which, when compared to the incentive, sponsorship and recognition of the categories of women's football, are shamefully unequal and extremely sexist.

It's more than proven that it's not just about football. It's not just a game. Much less passion and irrationality. It is a fundamental part of the political and ideological dispute in the construction of an international social and cultural revolution. We live in the midst of the chaos of a country worthy of a dystopian series that would certainly reach the top 10 in the most successful streamings in the world. But the final chapter remains in dispute.

*Naiara Aguilera Soares is a public school teacher, graduated from the Faculty of Education of the Federal University of Bahia (FACED-UFBA).

References


ANDRADE, Carlos Drummond de. When is football day🇧🇷 São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2014.

BARRETO, Lima. "Over the Football". Bras Cubas. Rio de Janeiro, year ii, 15 Aug. 1918.

BARRETO, Lima. “A game of Football". Mask, Rio de Janeiro, year twelfth, n. 589, 4 Oct. 1919.

HOBSBAWM, Eric J. The Age of Empires. Rio de Janeiro: Peace and Land, 1988.

MARX, Carl. Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right. Introduction to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right. Sao Paulo: Boitempo, 2010.

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