As the world watches tonight's opening ceremony of the 2014 Soccer World Cup in Sao Paolo, Brazil, Khulumani reflects back on the struggles to highlight the issues that are obscured when events of the magnitude of a World Cup are staged.
This year's Soccer World Cup takes place in Brazil in the midst of much anguish about the costs involved and the deviation of funds for critical public services towards the construction of stadiums. Brazil is reported to be spending three times more on this World Cup that was spent on the last three World Cups added together.
Sabrina Fernandes, a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at Carleton University, in her article, Brazil on Strike: Class Struggle in the Wake of the World Cup, has raised the questions that faced us in South Africa in the run up to the 2010 World Cup. Who will benefit from the World Cup? Her answer - big capital, large construction companies, property owners, and elites who can access the games. Are there benefits? Mega events do serve to promote tourism and they do leave some improved infrastructure, which in South Africa has proven exorbitantly costly to maintain. Who are the losers? Largely ordinary people whose everyday lives are rendered invisible as the exotic and stereotypical are highlighted and those who are dispossessed.
In South Africa Khulumani's Peoples' Justice Centre that was hosted at the Methodist Central Mission in Western Central Jabavu, Soweto told the stories in exhibitions, film screenings and panel discussions of the OTHER SOUTH AFRICA - of black sports persons who could never play for their country at international level because of apartheid; and of the collusion of big business in the prolonging of apartheid because it was profitable for these companies to do business with the apartheid regime.
These struggles for social justice - for enough food for everyone, for decent shelter and access to quality health care for all the people of a country, should never be forgotten in the glitz, glamour and excitement of a sporting event of huge proportions.
What if the World Cup takes away resources critical for schools and hospitals in a country (Brazil) where 13 million people to do not have enough food to sustain themselves everyday. When will the needs of the people take precedence?
We stand in solidarity with the members of the Popular Committees for the World Cup in Brazil who ask the question, "World Cup for whom?"