World Cup Brazil (2014): Global Vomit

One of the most beautiful features of the June-July 2014 World Cup is its planetary inclusiveness. It is globalization before Globalization; globalization without violence. It is a quarterly reminder we are members of a human family participating in a planetary phenomenon greater than the human eyeballs watching and human ears hearing.

World Cup matches have differences resolved at the blast of a referee’s whistle with a supporting cast of decision makers in FIFA, behind the scenes, appealing to the greater good of the game both for the benefit of the game’s ethics and their global corporate allies for whom the Cup has become a window to market consumer products.

FIFA has successfully made the World Cup a big business; this explains its urgency to punish Luis Suarez of Uruguay for biting the Italian defender Chiellini. FIFA’s corporate allies disapproved of Suarez’s spontaneous cannibalism (smile!) so FIFA also disapproved and quickly. For soccer aficionados this new love affair with global corporate powers is like daddy having a second wife and a new family, aficionados are no longer as important as once they were; they have to share the house of soccer with more economically powerful newcomers and new markets. They want eyeballs, we want soccer.

During this World Cup the globe is vomiting its present day political realities. By this I mean the parade of players and teams from now politically independent nation-states that were previously colonized peoples under the yoke of western and eastern European colonial domination. Now free they are playing the planetary game against each other and against former colonial powers. We have the spectacle of teams from countries that are not having an easy time of it, playing in the World Cup and giving their peoples a sense of hope that better than suffering is possible (Iran; Algeria).

Further, we have the physical evidence of modern human migration from the colonies to the metropole; from the south to the north. I am writing about surnames that are not traditional to certain teams in the World Cup. The Switzerland team has several players whose surnames provoke a “WHAT!” Take a look at these surnames: Behrami, Djourou, Rodriguez, Fernandes, Mehmedi, Shaqiri, Dzemaili. These names are not traditional Swiss surnames which are more like Lichtsteiner, Benaglio, Schar, and Senderos.

These unusual Swiss surnames are of a new Switzerland (do not tell that to the Swiss). They are existing in a country that has made a public case against “foreigners” and “illegal migrants” and “Muslim veil wearing migrants” and “too many Africans’’ and “too many unskilled immigrants” and “too many people in our country who do not want to follow our cultural ways.” One can but hope entry into the World Cup and play against the likes of Argentina (to whom they lost 1-0) might make a positive difference in the Swiss journey on the road of human tolerance.

The World Cup has vomited evidence of the reordering of the post-Second World War geopolitical map of nations. We are witnesses to an independent Croatia and Bosnia on the world stage when, historically, both were members of the unified nation of Yugoslavia, which no longer exists; further, we have Russia and not the United Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) which also no longer exists.

Words: 547

Charles Simon-Aaron

World Cup 2014: In Temple Brazil We Bow

For both Brazils, the country and the soccer team, victory is guaranteed in the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament. With Brazilian soccer, the world is visiting its temple of soccer excellence to pay it tribute for the gifts it has granted its followers and for permission to imitate. Brazil is the global temple of soccer creativity. With Brazil the country, its global business accomplishments have gained global recognition for playing by the rules of the American-Anglo controlled international finance and commercial complex in the post-Cold war world of integrated markets and free flowing capital. Brazil, here, is a temple to global capitalism.

The creative self of global soccer originates in Brazil and its favela dwellers; this community of Brazil’s poorest are largely African heritaged and account for 54% of Brazil’s population. That’s right, African-heritaged Brazilians are the historical and cultural source of the  innovative changes in the style of Brazilian football that so amazes, called “Samba ball” it is the play of these favela dweller’s that is the envy of the world.

Samba-ball: Think of the pull-back, where the ball is shown to the opponent, pushed forward to the opponent and is then pulled-back from the opponent with amazing speed; the nutmeg, here the ball handler pushes the ball between the unsuspecting open legs of the opponent, the striker runs around the opponent collects the ball and is off to the Gods with a message of intent; the over-the-head kick, here the striker approaches, face-first, the opponent, chips the ball over the head of the opponent at high speed, runs behind the opponent and…; the crossover, here, the attacking player steps over the ball at high speed, this is designed to frustrate the opposing defender after which the striker breaks for attack, a staple of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

The modern innovations of Samba-ball are the sausage meat in the Burger of the World Cup in Brazil, its bread wrapping is Brazilian money-power which has marked its rise to prominence in commercial aircraft manufacture, pharmaceuticals, agri-business, car manufacture, food manufacture, petroleum, hydro-electric power, minerals and mining. The World Cup, to be followed by the Olympics, is the global money markets reward to Brazil for its willingness to play big business by the rules of global commerce in a post-Cold War world.

So powerful is this new Brazil that its Portuguese is the dominant and only Portuguese on Google’s search engine. The casting weight was Brazil’s population of 202,656,788 compared to Portugal’s 10,813,834 and the rise to global prominence of Brazil’s capitalist economy. The colonizer has been usurped by its former colony in the age of the Internet and globalization.

The teams attending the World Cup in Brazil 2014 are saying thank you Brazil for the uniqueness of your soccer; and global business is saying congratulations Brazil on playing by the rules of international commerce. The joys your game and your players have given to the world are now matched by your economic and financial success on the global stage in the post-Cold war world of integrated markets and the free flow of capital.

Words: 524

Charles Simon-Aaron

A Black Brazilian Coach for the Brazilian Soccer team?

In the aftermath of Brazil’s defeat by the Dutch in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, in Nelson Mandela Stadium, July 2nd, 2010, the need for reflection on coach Dunga’s tactics, strategies and player selection needs to be extended to include reflection on the continued refusal of the Brazilian Football authorities to recruit and select a coach from among the nation’s community of black Brazilian talent. This moment of defeat and the caustic rumination the Brazilian football playing machine will do in its search for a new World Cup winning formula cannot be allowed to ignore this missing ingredient in the development of the nation’s football. Perhaps!
The whole soccer loving world is watching its response to this defeat to learn how to cope with such a loss.
I admit to playing not-nice with this question at a time when soccer, care of the World Cup, offers its four-yearly serving of mass joy and globalized satisfaction for the great unwashed of the modern world in South Africa in 2010. This is not the time popular mood suggests for such seismologically critical interventions in the cultural diet for the world’s untermenschen-[i.e., German for inferior people].
It is rather a time for the poisons of social conflicts and inequalities to be buried whilst a common humanity is resurrected and practiced with the same ease as life in its absence. A consideration such as this, at such a time, is a most unwelcomed disturbance.
It is best dealt with headed for the waste bin of history, but surely there is no better time for this question to be asked, if not during the World Cup then when for the non-Brazilian fan of Brazilian soccer?
From Brazil’s 1958 victory in Sweden, under the leadership of Vincente Fiola, when Zito, Garrincha and Pele were unleashed upon an unsuspecting post-Second World War era with their beautiful mesmerizing skills, to now, Brazil has never had a black African Brazilian coach, why?
Why, indeed when one considers the legend of legendary black Brazilian soccer playing talent that the nation seemingly possesses in as much abundance as it does rivers, oil, root vegetables and sunshine. They are part of the social fabric of the Brazilian nation and are seemingly born every minute with each generation possessing more skill and talent than the one before.
Why with a roll call as distinguished as Didi, Edu, Garrincha, Jairzinho, and Carlos Alberto, to name a but a few, can the nation that has given birth to such illustrious talents not be able to recruit any from among them for the highest position in its most internationally renowned export. Why?
The current cry around the world is for the hiring of local coaches–see the debate with Africa and its panoply of globalized non-African coaching guns-for-hire–yet Brazil has magically escaped this lash of international public inquiry if not derision? Why?
Perhaps this oversight has something to do with the differences between the definition of “race” in Brazil and that outside of the country.
Perhaps for Brazilians, including African Brazilians, the absence of an African coach is not a problem.
Perhaps what Brazil calls black is different from what Africans and Europeans from its more northerly neighbors would not call such. Perhaps!
Perhaps we–non-Brazilians–have to admit that the Brazilian explanation of race is such that it needs to be respected as unique to the nation and its history and North American considerations on the matter should stop at the door step of Brazilian sovereignty. Perhaps!
Perhaps Brazil will get to the promised land of democratic inclusiveness, accountability and transparency in its social conduct in the realms of popular culture when it raises its standard of living in a globalized world where its economic and technological prowess now matters in many international markets in many product lines from shipbuilding and military technology to oil production and agribusiness. Perhaps!
Perhaps Brazil is learning that when you are a major player on the globalized world stage there are standards of conduct expected of a senior state such as accountability, transparency, and consistency in governmental affairs which may run counter to domestic preferences on some issues—like choice of soccer coach for the national team or the legal rights of homosexuals or assisted suicide. Perhaps!
But, if the reader will allow the plebian egalitarian prejudices of this author be invoked with due respect the intellectual considerations above on the matters of “race” and Brazil and “race in Brazil” the following is issued for soccer lovers to ponder: when are we to see a coach of Brazil’s national soccer team who looks like Pele, the country’s, and the modern game’s most world renowned icon? When?
When Brazil?

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Charles Simon-Aaron
University of Malaya
International Relations and Strategic Studies
Kuala Lumpur
July 2nd, 2010

LeBron James, Po’Folks, Winner and Losers in Modern America

LeBron James, Po’Folks, Winner and Losers in Modern America
Words: 933
Where would you rather play if your name is LeBron James, sunny Miami-(winners) or cold, dull Cleveland (losers)–the mistake by the lake?
Be honest.
I do not know your choice, but I do know mine: Miami.
After 7 years service to the Cleveland Cavaliers I too would leave. It is time for a change. LeBron James did as he had a right to do according to American labor laws and the collective bargaining agreement of the NBA.
What hurts with his leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers are the consequences for the little people of Cleveland, the security guards, bouncers, waitresses and waiters, hotel attendants and cleaners, bus drivers, barbers, parking lot attendants, maintenance and sanitation workers-the city’s little people, its po’folks.
Cleveland is a depressed ex-manufacturing city in the heart of America’s ex-manufacturing heartland. With outsourcing and deindustrialization, home foreclosures, depopulation and a dwindling tax base, it has seen much, much, better times. It is now a city that is a shell of its former prosperous self.
Into this toxic mix of economic destitution and urban hardship LeBron’s money making presence kept the city’s po’folk in a position to make some “get-get” at home games, now that he is gone the money his presence made available has gone with him. The $20 million he forewent to sign with Miami is no blessing to Cleveland’s little people.
For Cleveland’s little people who pinch pennies and miss credit payments to make ends meet, the numbers surrounding the big three of Wade, James and Bosh, are beyond the sky. Those numbers make even less sense in an American economy unbalanced by mass unemployment and the economic extinction of its unskilled work force.
Claims Omar Akkad in his Globe and Mail article, “The world according to LeBron,” (Toronto: Friday July 9th, 2010), LeBron generated $153 million annually for the Cleveland Cavaliers; was expected to be a billionaire in New York had he signed with the Knicks and, have a $3 billion dollar impact in Chicago had he signed with the Chicago Bulls.
When the numbers of his economic impact with the team ($153million) are added to that of his impact upon the city we find that combined he generated about $211 million a year in the Cleveland are. This is serious money in a depressed urban economy. We have not added the extra income earned by those industries supplying the hotels, bars and restaurants.
When we add the income paid to the service workers–mostly po’folks–the economic impact of LeBron’s leaving in terms of income lost, in a depressed economy, comes home full force. Many of these workers look at their jobs as bread and butter jobs because the high paying jobs in manufacturing industry no longer exist. This is serious economics for po’folks.
Who is going to pay top dollar to see a Delonte West?
Oh, and by the way, who is Delonte West? Get the drift.
As tough as times are now for po’ folks in the America, America is many joyful Sundays for its rich. Claims David Degraw in his AlterNet article, “The Richest 1% Have Captured America’s Wealth — What’s It Going to Take to Get It Back?”( (2008-2009) “the wealth of the 400 richest Americans increased by $30 billion, bringing their total combined wealth to $1.57 trillion, which is more than the combined net worth of 50% of the US population. Just to make this point clear, 400 people have more wealth than 155 million people combined.”

With the traditional manufacturing economy gone forever to China, Malaysia, Vietnam, India, and Brazil, po’ folk have to find other ways to make a living hence the rise of the drug trade, smuggling cigarettes and other contraband–like human cargo– gun running, insurance fraud, selling blood-(and other body organs)- stealing copper wire and cars.
Any job that brings with it steady employment and a steady paycheque is a job worth keeping. These are the adjustments to a changed economic reality that ordinary Americans are engaged in to make cash to survive.
This new economy of low economic opportunities for po’folk is a short term, part-time, casual, temporary, and low waged economy with new victims with every passing day–(losers.) In this economy LeBron is earning $99 million along with his fellow superstars, Wade and Bosh, which reinforces the economy at the high end of the economic food chain–(winners).
The Nielsen Co. estimated 9.95 million people watched the ESPN show “The Decision” where James made known his choice of team. Season ticket prices have skyrocketed in Miami-(winners) as they have been lowered in Cleveland-(losers). The Miami tourist board is wringing its hands in glee whilst the Cleveland tourist board is sipping regrets from its cup of loss.
The American economy is one of winners and losers.
LeBron James now is a winner.
LeBron’s decision is one made in keeping with the golden rule of America: he who has the gold rules. LeBron James is getting his gold and, though he enrages the fan base of the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team and the city’s fathers he celebrates the attitude of a new America, one born in a deindustrialized nation where it is no longer how you make money, since there are no occupational guarantees for working people in this economy, but how much money you make. He did not create these rules he is just making the best of the advantages his marketable skills have granted him-within the rules.

Dr. Charles Simon-Aaron
Department of International Relations and Strategic Studies
University of Malaya
Kuala Lumpur