Brian Glanville“Right said Fred.” And right it was for him and his expertly taken goals for Brazil.

Yet over the ensuing finals hangs the shadow of revolt, of angry demonstrations among the populace in city after city. And the colossal expense of the coming tournament is a major factor in such turbulence.

Whatever the scope and the intensity of the demonstrations it is plainly far too late for Brazil to back out of the competition now. Far too many billions have already been spent on new or renovated stadia, and the trumpeting of white elephants may already faintly be heard. Moreover, there is surely a certain ambivalence among the rioters. The pseudo official religion of football is such in Brazil, the mirage of a World Cup victory so alluring, that this must be some kind of restraint of public disorder as the time draws near.

It is also a little hard to understand why the protests erupt now, rather than at any previous time. Corruption in Brazil, notorious corruption in Brazilian football, historically so in its Federation, has long been commonplace.

Yet Joao Havelange remained a dominant figure first at home then for 24 years in FIFA (what does that tell you about the morality of FIFA itself?) while the almost as ineffable figure of Ricardo Teixeira was until very recently not only President of the Brazilian Federation, but head of their World Cup organising committee. Till both he and Havelange the father-in-law who pulled him out of relative poverty, were both found guilty of accepting huge bribes form the ISL group form commercial rights for FIFA.

Havelange at the age of 97 won’t be too worried at having to resign as honorary President of FIFA, while Teixeira has resigned as head of the Brazilian World Cup organisation. But how has it al taken so long.

As for the football, it is clear that the Spanish domination is at an end. Maybe they were tired in the Brazilian game after extra-time efforts in the previous match against Italy. Yet more to the point they were extremely lucky to survive that and only on penalties. Italy were overall the better team who created the better chances and it is feasible that had Mario Balotelli been fit to play, he would have exploited them.

The Confederations Cup is something of a secondary, even a superfluous, tournament and to allow as feeble a team as Tahiti to reach the finals was laughable. At the very least, as in World Cup qualifiers, they should have been obliged to meet a stronger team from another group in play-offs.

Italy steadily improved and won’t be easy when the World Cup finals come. Germany weren’t there and would be more than a match for any opponent. Neymar, with his immense skill, flair and finishing power, the glorious goals he scored from a free-kick and a mystifying run between two opponents, the passes he so cleverly made, the way (still in real Brazilian wingers) he used the left flank, made him a salient international star. Argentina? And Messi? They will doubtless have a major say in the World Cup finals. But after earlier disappointments, Big Phil Scolari seems to have found a substantial team, with decent chances in 2014. Rioters permitting.

By Brian Glanville

 

  • Jogger John

    Age is no impediment in this Beautiful Game of ours, as you would surely attest, Brian

  • pepe

    And England? They will not even reach the last 8….Glory glory Hodgson and Co