The XX World Cup held in the ”capital of football” – Brazil came to an end with Germany’ victory. Like any other important sporting event that goes into the history of sports, this one was also memorable for its political aspects.
As the international community was looking forward to grand football celebration, holding of back-to-back strikes and rallies in Brazil was an astounding development. Even before the championship was kicked off local population held demonstrations demanding that funds allocated for implementation of infrastructure projects should have rather been spent on social needs. Thus, citizens had revealed the extent of support with respect to Latin America’s economic giant – Brazil’s aspiration to position itself as a power on the global stage. Eying to become one of the top five economic powers in the world in the near future, Brazil also targets a permanent UN Security Council membership. Willing to become a global player in the political architecture of the XXI century, Brazil was almost undergoing a test. The world cup by itself is a global-scale event. Therefore, local protest rallies can be viewed as anti-globalization efforts. Thus, evidently there is a lack of convergence between Brazil’s global ambitions and the domestic response.
Performance of Brazil’s home team is fascinating for its political outlines. Main rivalry was observed among Americas’ continental teams. First, if Brazil were to come against Uruguay and lose, it might have led to government crisis. Because Brazil’s first hosting of a football cup after the war, in the 1950, and subsequent defeat of its team by Uruguay was regarded as one of the biggest tragedies. That is why, Brazil-Uruguay showdown bears political significance for citizens of both nations. However, Uruguay’s defeat by Columbia had alleviated that threat. Instead, quarter-final match between Brazil and Columbia was dubbed a “coffee fight” by the commentators. According to UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Brazil ranks first for coffee production, while Columbia comes second. And “coffee match-up” during the World Cup failed to tip the scales. Brazil emerged victorious. If Brazil would have made to the finals we could have witnessed a leadership race in the Latin America. But it was Argentina that represented Americas’ relevance in the finals.
The football championship was interesting from the standpoint of European nations. This cup demonstrated that Europe was the major link of the global crisis. Just as the European countries have grappled with world financial-economic, cultural, justice and international law crisis, they exposed yet another one – that of football. Otherwise, Spain, England and Italy wouldn’t have been eliminated. For the sake of honesty, Germany saved the reputation of the “Old Continent” by becoming a champion. Generally, it is for the first time since the World War II that Germany has been is pursuing a distinctive political and economic course. Indeed, unlike its other European partners, Germany decided to stay on the sidelines during the “Arab awakening” processes. Later, in the Ukraine events, Germany also acted in line with its national interests. Given Germany’s dependence on Russian hydrocarbons, it preferred to have a liberal position. Germany opted not to damage its relations with Russia at the behest of a third party.
On the other hand, we witness some problems in German-US relations these days. Germany has resented against massive intelligence surveillance by the U.S. Actually the presence of such surveillance after the WWII was no surprise to anyone, including the German officials. But it was for the first time that Germany voiced an official protest. Therefore, quite an independent political course was logically amplified by the victory of the German team.
European teams that had been eliminated were also notable for their political prominence. Germany-France face-off fascinated the world. The peculiarity was that for the first time ever the French cheered for Germany, although it happened during another match, between Germany and Algeria. Advance of the Algerians – the first in the world cup history – was greeted with clashes in France. Victory rejoice of the Algerian migrants was not welcomed by the French in and on the outskirts of Marseille. Thus, during the Germany-Algeria game the French cheered for their sworn rivals – the Germans.
All in all, it would be accurate to stress that Algeria was the most significant political touch of the XX World Cup. Key players of the team being the natives of France added political undertones to the matter. With France nurturing the generation of migrants to comprise the whole team and choosing to play for their mother nation, it exposes a need for Europe to take these new residents into account. Hypothetically, performance of the French national team without Karim Benzema, a star striker of the Algerian descent, would be a fascinating subject. Generally speaking, 12 of the 23 player French national team are of African origin and majority of them are Muslim. One of the most distinctively European nations – France now faces a resurging relevance of the Muslim minority, who enjoy political clout throughout the Mediterranean coast of France.
Individual behavior of the Algerian players was also noteworthy in the political sense. Arab business and entertainment community promised money awards for each goal scored by the Algerian national team and latest model cars for the victory in the WC-2014. In turn, Islam Slimani, a striker of the national team said neither he nor his teammates needed that money and asked the funds to be donated for the needs of the Palestinian people. This gesture was seen as the one of Islamic compassion by the players of Algeria that is otherwise lackluster in the Islamic world.
There were some other politically remarkable connotations. Unusually boldly dressed Iranian female supporters, application for refugee status by some 200 Ghanaian nationals that arrived to Brazil on tourist visas, broadcasting by the North Korean state television of the staged footage depicting their national team as Word Cup winner were something that made this World Cup in Brazil memorable.
Thus, XX World Cup became a history, abundant with global-scale political events. Victory of Germany, commencing a pursuit of an independent policy in the modern era, must not be regarded as accidental. Emerging new balance of forces on Europe’s political map has already found its heavyweight on the football pitch.
PhD in Economy