Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Curmudgeon is tired! Football is the opium of the masses, everyone knows this; if not, no “major” club in Rio would still exist, because they owe, totaled up, about US$100 million to the governments of Brazil, federal state and municipal. They don’t pay, and … nobody cares. The Federal government is still proposing to forgive all their debts, that’s right, ALL! And we taxpayers will therefore, forever after, have Bread and Circus.
The Curmudgeon is tired of reading that Luis Soarez, the Uruguayan footballer for Liverpool who has made a habit of biting his opponents, was “unjustly” punished by the English Football League, which gave him a ten-game suspension. Liverpudlians say it’s too much, he’s just a kid (age 23) whose emotions occasionally overpower him, so give him a break.
What they don’t say is that he’s the mainstay of their offense, without him Liverpool play like Barcelona without Messi, witness the 0-4 score against Bayern München with Messi taking up almost as much space on the field as Ronaldo “Fenômeno” uselessly did in the 1998 final against France.
The Curmudgeon is also tired of reading that Wanderlei Luxemburgo, commonly known as “Luxa”, was “unjustly” punished by Conmebol, who gave him a six game suspension. His current team, Grêmio, says he’s just a victim, but anyone who watches the tape sees how he blatantly and cynically told the opposing team manager and players that they were history, they should go take showers. That set off a fracas in which, justly, Luxa got hit by a few of the (un)righteously vindictive Chileans.
The Curmudgeon is also tired of reading that Maracanã Stadium will be ready on time, and that the proof is in the match played last Sunday between some “friends” of somebody and some “friends” of somebody else. They used less than a third of the stadium, it was almost impossible to get in and out, and they still haven’t solved the problem about the “permanent” captive seats sold to people sixty years ago when Maracanã was first built.
The Curmudgeon is, finally, tired of reading about the protests staged (and that’s the operative word, the world’s a stage) outside Maracanã, before the game, to protest the eviction of squatters from a decrepit, derelict and decaying old building near Maracanã. As it happens, the squatters were mostly Indians, some of whom may even be Brazilian. But they claim, oh my, how they claim! they created an indigenous “village” (aldéia) in this dreadful dump, and that somehow gives them the right to remain there.
The truth is, they’re a bunch of publicity hounds with a head for living off the largesse of government, who don’t want to give up their absolutely free living quarters in the Big City. That’s not just tiresome, it’s just not right. Indians who come to Rio to “live off the land” (panhandling, playing pan flutes) bring nothing of their “indigenous” culture here, because there is no indigenous culture that can survive in a super-urban environment like Rio de Janeiro.
The Curmudgeon hopes (truly, I know you don’t believe it after this diatribe, but … truly) that the former squatters find some patch of rural ground where they can once again remember, recapture and regain their cultural roots and their cultural souls. It won’t be in a parking lot outside Maracanã.
Michael Royster, aka THE CURMUDGEON first saw Rio forty-plus years ago, fetched up on these shores exactly 35 years ago, still loves it, notwithstanding being a charter member of the most persecuted minority in (North) America today, the WASPs (google it!)(get over it!)