As we leave the round of sixteen (16) and move to the final eight (8) it is fairly clear that the homogenization of soccer culture has left the leading teams nearly equal. There has been few results with margins of more than three (3) goals. Indeed most matches, even in the preliminaries, were closer than was expected by most commentators.
As we enter the final eight, France vs Germany; Brazil vs Colombia; Argentina vs Belgium; Netherlands vs Costa Rica; we may indeed have unexpected semi-finalists and finalists. Certainly, Belgium, Colombia and Costa Rica have not threatened to go all the way in recent years or even before. While the others have more pedigree, if you will. Brazil has only shown fleeting displays of the brilliance expected. Germany has been, as usual, workmanlike and strong in defense, but unconvincing so far. They have been in this position before. Lionel Messi has shown up at critical times to secure a top quarterfinals spot for Argentina but he has not been the magician we expected and the rest of his team are just above par.
We see Belgium and the Netherlands, on their day, on par with the average displays of France, Brazil, Germany and Argentina. This normalization of standards leaves this world cup of soccer 2014 opened to, maybe, a Cinderella team. Maybe Colombia or Costa Rica if they can continue to surprise us with ball play. Colombia has drawn their last four (4) games with Brazil. The display of Costa Rica should give inspiration to small island states everywhere and may alter the algebra of control of world soccer.
Every time world cup soccer (football) comes around a plurality of the peoples of the world recall the glorious Brazilian teams of 1950’s, 60’s and early 70’s. The Brazilian teams of Edson Arantes do Nascimento (Pele) and his band of magicians. Things are unlikely to be any different this year with the tournament being in what some consider the Holy See for soccer lovers with Pele as its eternal Pope. But this Brazilian team of 2014 is unlikely to repeat the dazzling brilliance of their forebears, even if they won the cup.To a large extent it was the Brazilians who led the transformation of soccer from a slow physical game to the faster, more technical, tactical, precise, flowing and the easier to watch marketing product it has become. This product is now more diffused and the sources of competition Pele’s Brazil had to counter are now more numerous, as the European leagues will show as they more and more rely on players from elsewhere.
Jones with disgraced FIFA Vice President Jack Warner and Lisle Austin
The war which the publics of the world have declared against corrupt, neo-liberal, corporatist establishments has found its presence in all the major cities of Brazil. Brazilian non-violent warriors are employing a range of weapons of civil disobedience in their eternal search for economic justice. The clinch fists of the counterparts of a Ronald Jones are confronting them with state-sponsored violence, as is their duty – they believe. Brazil has been a leading light of a wider progressive movement in South and Central America for over a decade. Jones and his ruling global clique would desperately like to avoid the coming storms in the anti-Empire winter of rage. Some were mistaken in their assumption that that people’s movement had gone full circle and had returned to a state of peu de mort.That Brazilians deemed it necessary to open up a new front against entrenched corporate governments, given all the historical problems that successive regimes faced, and to some extent in more recent times, had been partially successful in managing, must now be re-interpreted as a deeper, more fundamental revolutionary movement than uninitiated observers had at first posited. Cities including San Paolo and Rio de Janeiro are demonstrating against an unremitting, even if dying, neo-liberal project that still leaves masses of poor, mainly black, Brazilians without decent housing, low wages, inadequate transportation, an absence of resources, a lack of medical care, a polluted environment and massive and continuing deforestation of the lungs of the planet – Amazonia. These maladies are ‘liberally’ distributed in the rest of the western hemisphere and spring from the invasion of the Italian Jew, Christopher Columbus.
I am particularly happy to hear of the airline breakthrough with respect to establishing direct air links between Barbados and Brazil. It has not altered my not backing Brazil to win the football World Cup, but it has certainly created enormous concepts in my mind for modernizing the tourism product.
Several commentators to date have zoomed in on inherent challenges in filling those airline seats, I am more inclined to approach the topic from the opportunity it provides for us create a first rate destination. We are blessed with such natural tourism attributes as year round sea, sand and sun, but somehow I get the impression that as a population, we assume sometimes that other features will take care of themselves and do not necessarily need nurturing and sustaining.
In a discussion such as this, the issue of price always arises but I am not persuaded that Barbados, in the context of the destinational altitude that it flies, is any more expensive than comparable locales. Dollar for dollar, in the context of what tourists normally buy, we are no more expensive than Jamaica, Bahamas and definitely not Cayman Islands or Bermuda. In relation to Europe and North America, pound for pound, dollar for dollar you get as much or more here in Barbados as you do for the said output in any of the very popular shopping, entertainment and leisure ports of call.
Just for the record, I would like to applaud all those involved in securing the direct non-stop flight from GOL flight from Sao Paulo including the Minister of Tourism, BTA, Barbados Diplomatic Corp and BHTA. It is a tremendous achievement, and I believe it offers the very best option in terms of route, carrier, duration of flight, connecting city possibilities and gateway.
From comments made by the Minister in the media, he is not expecting every flight to be full in the initial operating period, and however sceptical some may be about this foray into South America, this is in my humble opinion is a very realistic approach. I would, though, offer some suggestions how, perhaps, more of those seats could be filled by specifically targeting niche markets.
I think that we should break down 60 of the available 150 seats per flight and set some achievable goals and objectives.
The Takatu Bridge opening last September saw Guyanese and Brazilians celebrating but for different reasons. It signalled that Guyana was finally on its way in fulfilling its ‘continental destiny.’ Brazil on the other hand is happy to have finally opened up access to the Atlantic and Caribbean for it’s landlocked territories.
Brazil has tremendous resources to assist Guyana in achieving our highest potentials. There are but few of our imports that cannot be fulfilled by Brazilian industries. With all that said, there’s another side to Brazil many refuse to acknowledge much less discuss. And I speak of the plight of the 90 plus million Afro-Brazilians.
We need not discuss how these Africans got to Brazil, but to understand
the magnitude, it’s four times larger than the African American population. Nigeria is the only country in the world with more Africans than Brazil. (I prefer the term African as opposed to Black since Africa indicates a place of origin) I point these things out because I visited Brazil last year and became a victim of police harassment and racial profiling less than twenty four hours after arriving in Boa Vista.
I was in a tourist zone when three City Police (Guardia Municipal)demanded that I turn around and put my hands up. I objected as is my right. I had done nothing but take photos of the Rio Branco. These police weren’t having any of it and forced me around and began aggressively patting me down and kicking my legs apart. My passport was checked out so they had nothing on me there as I had legally entered Brazil. In the end it may have been my Guyana passport that saved me as Afro-Brazilians are routinely rounded up beaten, killed, framed and imprisoned. The current and historical record speaks to this.