The Economist on Brazil: Futbol, Art, etc

Scanning The Economist newspaper weekly for articles relating to Latin America is one barometer of how the English speaking financial world views Brazil, Mexico, and the other major economies Central and South America. Of particular interest this tidbit, from the second to last piece, a book review: “He rightly derides FIFA, football’s international governing body, for its imperious attitude. But, according to Mr Goldblatt, this institutional culture originated in Brazil. He explains that João Havelange, a Brazilian who served as FIFA president for 24 years, “brought to the institution the unique imprimatur of Brazil’s ruling elite: imperious cordiality, ruthless clientelistic politics and a self-serving blurring of the public and private realms”.” As a traveler/ trader to Brazil, my view is to be short Rio (RJ), but long all other Brazilian states, especially SC (Santa Catarina, with no World Cup or Olympics), and RS (Rio Grande do Sol) as The Economist’s bullish (2008) and bearish (2013) case are both true, but geographically separate: that is, while one may encounter hubris in RJ perhaps because it is overbought, one may encounter more genuine welcome in RS and SC because these areas are still relatively undervalued. 



Beautiful game, dirty business

Football is a great sport, but it could be so much better if it were run honestly

THE mesmerising wizardry of Lionel Messi and the muscular grace of Cristiano Ronaldo are joys to behold. But for deep-dyed internationalists like this newspaper, the game’s true beauty lies in its long reach, from east to west and north to south. Football, more than any other sport, has thrived on globalisation. Nearly half of humanity will watch at least part of the World Cup, which kicks off in Brazil on June 12th.



A game of two halves

The world’s largest nations will play almost no part in the World Cup. But there are signs that, eventually, football will become a truly global game

DEEP in the jungles of Myanmar there is a camp stocked with guns, maps and medical supplies. Medics and former rebels regularly practise dodging bullets on its flat exercise ground. Then they dust themselves off and kick a ball at makeshift bamboo goals. The communication difficulties attendant on the aftermath of civil conflict mean they may not have seen Real Madrid win the European Champions League last month. But they know how its famed Portuguese winger, Cristiano Ronaldo, stands over a free kick.


Medellín’s comeback

The trouble with miracles

The transformation of Colombia’s second city will be hard to copy

UNTIL a few years ago, no outsider would have dared to set foot in Comuna 13, once the most dangerous neighbourhood in Medellín, Colombia’s second city. Now travel agencies offer tours to look at the district’s many murals, or to ride the long outdoor escalator built to ascend the steep flanks of the valley in which the city of 2.4m people sits. Such excursions are not just for tourists; mayors from all over the world are trekking to a city that has become a model of urban development. How did the “Medellín miracle” happen? And what can it teach other cities?


The growing stink at FIFA

The case for a replay

New light is being shed on the choice of Qatar to host football’s biggest event in 2022

EVER since 2010, when Qatar was chosen to host the 2022 World Cup, there have been suspicions about how one of the world’s least suitable football venues succeeded in snagging the sport’s greatest tournament. So revelations published on June 1st by the Sunday Times, a British newspaper, of e-mails detailing lavish campaigning by Mohamed bin Hammam, a disgraced former FIFA vice-president from the tiny, hot and scorching Gulf state, shocked, but did not surprise. Football’s tarnished world governing body is now under pressure to re-run the bidding process—pressure that on past form its 78-year-old president, the ineffably complacent Sepp Blatter, will try to resist.

Football and Brazil


The making of football’s spiritual home

Futebol Nation: The Story of Brazil through Soccer.By David Goldblatt.Nation Books; 320 pages; $16.99. Published in Britain by Penguin Press as “Futebol Nation: A Footballing History of Brazil”; £9.99. Buy from

The Country of Football: Soccer and the Making of Modern Brazil.By Roger Kittleson.University of California Press; 328 pages; $26.95 and £18.95. Buy from

Brazil’s Dance with the Devil: The World Cup, the Olympics, and the Struggle for Democracy.By Dave Zirin.Haymarket Books; 246 pages; $16. Buy from

HOLDING the World Cup in Brazil, football’s spiritual home, sparked many fantasies of samba-infused spectacle. Those illusions were shattered last June when protests swept across the country during a warm-up tournament; a year on the discontent still simmers. The government’s slum-clearing efforts have met violent resistance. In May demonstrators incensed by the billions being spent on stadiums and security set tyres alight in a new wave of protests. The sports minister has felt compelled to reassure visiting fans that they will find Brazil safer than Iraq.

Art from Brazil

Tropical growth

Government intervention threatens the spread of Brazilian art

 Flower power

BRAZIL’S footballers can legitimately claim to have turned a sport into an art. But the country does not want for flair when it comes to other forms of artistic expression. Brazilian artists are as sought after by curators and collectors as the Canarinhos are by football-club owners.

Published by Janar Wasito

Janar Wasito is the manager of Magis Capital in San Diego, CA. He is a graduate of Harvard and Stanford Law School, and a former Marine Officer.

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