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Group B: An alternative view of the World Cup

By Martin Smith | 13 June 2014

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-images-image35972609What an opening to the World Cup. Was it a penalty? Was the referee really neutral? Can Brazil go on to win the tournament? And most importantly of all, how right was Dream Deferred to say that Neymar was the player to watch out for!

But this blog isn’t a report of the matches. Instead it wants to argue that the national unity so heavily promoted by FIFA and our rulers is fake. Behind all the flag waving and speeches saying we are in it together, there is violence, inequality, injustice and exploitation.

In the last blog we looked at the teams that make up Group A. Today Group B takes to the world stage.

Group B

1. AUSTRALIA

FIFA world ranking: 62

Place in world economic league table: 12

Civil rights issues:

“ The government continued to limit funding for housing and municipal services such as water and sanitation to Aboriginal peoples living on traditional homelands in the Northern Territory. As a result, people were effectively forced to abandon their traditional homelands to access essential services.”

“Indigenous Peoples, while accounting for roughly 2.5% of Australia’s population, comprised 26 per cent of the adult prison population. Half of all juveniles in detention were Aboriginal. A parliamentary committee report on Aboriginal youth and justice published in June showed a jump of 66 per cent in Aboriginal imprisonment rates between 2000 and 2009.”

“5,733 people are held in immigration detention, including 441 children, 38% have been detained for over 12 months.”

Death penalty: NO

Rich and poor:

According to ABS the top 20% of Australians own 60.8% of the countries wealth and the bottom 20% just 0.9%.

The Australian TUC reports that 12.8% of all Australian’s live below the poverty line. 17.3% of all children were also living below the poverty line.

Resistance:

The Aboriginal Land Rights Movement was launched in 1966. Since then it has tirelessly fought to improve the conditions indigenous Australians. In 1985 they won their campaign to force the Australian government to hand back Uluru (Ayres rock) back to the Anugu, its traditional owners. In 2014 it is involved in a major confrontation with the New South Wales Authorities over land rights.

Player to watch: Mile Jedinak (midfield)

2. CHILE

FIFA world ranking: 14

Place in world economic league table: 38

Civil rights issues

After a hard days torturing Pinochet loved to watch his national team in action

After a hard days torturing Pinochet loved to watch his national team in action

“There were continuing concerns about the inappropriate use of anti-terrorism legislation in cases involving Mapuche activists, including minors.”

“There were several reports of torture and other ill-treatment, including beatings and threats of sexual violence, against students arbitrarily detained by police during student demonstrations.”

Abortion remains a criminal offence in all circumstances.

Rich and poor:

Chile has the widest gap between rich and poor in Latin America. According to official statements 11% of the population live in poverty, with as much as 3% are considered ‘extremely poor’. The top 1% Chile’s wealthy own 42.5% of the countries wealth and the bottom 10% just 1.5%.

Death penalty: NO

Resistance

Since 2011 Chilean students have been involved in wave after wave of protests. They are demanding improvements in state education and they reject the attempts to privatise the education system. The ‘Chilean winter’ as it is known, has seen mass demonstrations, occupations, riots and strikes. The Students have not won all their demands but they have damaged the government’s reputation and some major concessions.

Player to watch: Alexis Sanchez (forward)

3. HOLLAND

FIFA world ranking: 15

Place in world economic league table: 18

Civil rights issues:

The government has passed a law banning the wearing of clothing intended to conceal the face. A violation of the ban is punishable with a fine of 380 Euros. The law is designed to punish Muslim women who wear a burqa or niqab.

The European Court of Human Rights has condemned and some cases blocked the Dutch government from deporting asylum seekers being returned to unsafe countries.

Death penalty: NO

Rich and poor:

The Netherlands has one of the narrowest income gaps between rich and poor in Europe. Eurostadt states Dutch income gap is 0.27 on a scale of 0 to 1, a figure which has hardly changed since 2001.

The latest statistics on the percentage of wealth owned by rich and poor, date back to 1999, Then income share held by highest 10% in Netherlands was 22.9% and income share held by lowest 10% in Netherlands: 2.49%.

Oxfam report from 2013 says: “Currently, 70,000 people get free food from food banks (‘Voedselbank’). In 2012, this number increased dramatically; by 60 per cent in Amsterdam and 30 per cent in the city of Tilburg.”

Resistance

The Dutch PVV party, headed by Gert Wilders, is one of Europe’s most influential right wing racist populist parties. In March 2014 around 10,000 took to the streets of Amsterdam in opposition to racism and the PVV.

Player to watch: Arjen Robben (winger)

4. SPAIN

FIFA world ranking: 1

Place in world economic league table: 13

Civil rights issues:

“There were allegations of excessive use of force by law enforcement officials during demonstrations by the Occupy Movement across Spain between May and August 2012. There were cases of torture and mistreatment of prisoners.”

“Spain continued to disregard calls by international human rights bodies to abolish the use of incommunicado detention for those suspected of terrorism-related offences. The regime allowed detainees to be held for up to 13 days, during which time they did not have access to a lawyer of their choice, could not consult their state-appointed lawyer in private, did not have access to a doctor of their choice and could not have their family informed of their whereabouts.”

“People belonging to ethnic minorities continued to be targeted for discriminatory identity checks, and civil society activists observing those checks faced judicial proceedings for obstructing the work of the police.”

Death penalty: No

Rich and poor:

Spain - World Cup Champions 2010

Spain – World Cup Champions 2010

The gap between rich and poor has grown faster in Spain since the economic crisis than any other country. Those in the top fifth of Spanish society are now seven and a half times richer than the bottom fifth.

The number of millionaires has increased by 13% in 2013, while 3 million live in poverty.

The number of unemployed people in Spain in 2013 hit 26.3%. Youth unemployment reached a new high of 56.1%. A quarter of the 3.5 million under-25s jobless across the Eurozone, according to figures published by Eurostat.

Resistance:

Spanish workers, students and the unemployed have waged an inspirational struggle against austerity. There have been general strikes in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

On 15 May 2011 there were semi-spontaneous mass demonstrations and town sq occupations and tent camps in all of Spain’s cities. Those involved were predominantly young and lasted for months.

In May 2012 over 8,000 Austurian miners’ struck to defend jobs, It was a militant struggle, there were attacks on the police and government offices. The strike overlapped with transport strikes and a one day regional strike. In June miners marched on the capital Madrid.

Player to watch: Andres Iniesta (midfield)

>> Read all our alternative World Cup posts



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