Radikal Readings: Brazil’s Dance with the Devil

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Full disclosure: I am a fan of Dave Zirin. I had the pleasure of meeting him and hearing him speak when I was doing my undergrad at Cal State East Bay. I am not exaggerating when I say that hearing him speak changed my life, in that I view sports and it’s role in society and politics in a complete different manner. It was an eye opening experience and I have since read numerous books and articles by him.

His latest comes just weeks before the FIFA World Cup games begin on June 12, 2014 in Brazil. The thoroughly researched book examines the protests and problems with sports mega-events, in this case the World Cup in 2014, followed by the Olympics in 2016.

If you know nothing of the mass protests and general anger over the mass spending (in excess of $15 billion) and corruption in Brazil over theses events, this book is a rude awakening.

Like all of Zirin’s books (the three I have read thus far) it is extremely informational and reads like a very in depth long-form essay. Yet, it is highly engaging. I found myself shaking my head at times or gasping in shock whole reading this on the train, so absorbed that I forgot my surroundings.

When it comes to subject matter, this was personal for me. Football, or soccer, is one of my favorite sports. I grew up with games constantly on the television at home. I look forward to watching the World Cup every four years. Yet, was aware of the corruption surrounding FIFA such events, just not at this shocking level. It was eye opening and educational. Most of all it caused me, one person in San Francisco who has never been to Brazil, want to be involved in showing some type of solidarity to all those in Brazil who are being evicted, suffering and feel as though they are being bulldozed along with their homes.

When June 12th rolls around all eyes will be on the games, but there will be protesters on the streets. You can show solidarity by going to the Brazilian consulate, standing in front as a way of letting the Brazilian government, world and FIFA now that we are watching and we are with the people of Brazil.

Please, please read this book if you consider yourself a fan of soccer or if you plan on watching. Any World Cup games.

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