Group D: England’s turn to get a kicking

By Martin Smith | 14 June 2014


We are just hours away from England’s first group D match. Cameron will be cheering England on, the Sun is cheering England on and from her grave so will Margaret Thatcher. I for one won’t be.

If I’m honest my dream scenario is an early exit for England and for Scotland to vote yes for independence.

I’m not a killjoy, I love football, but I hate the pretence that it is just a game. When Cameron tells us to get behind the team, he wants to bathe in the glory and the passion and he wants us to forget about low pay, the cuts, the treatment of migrants and Muslims.

This blog contains just a few facts about the state of the nations playing in this tournament.

You can read are alternative World Cup reports group by group here:
Group A
Group B
Group C



FIFA world ranking: 10

Place in world economic league table: 6
All statistics are for UK

Civil rights issues:

Amnesty International does not report on civil rights issues. Why? It can’t be because Britain’s human rights record is second to none. So for this section I have just written a short account of how our government denies many people their civil rights.

According to Inquest 827 people have died during or following police contact since 2004.

Over a million stop and search encounters have been recorded in Britain in 2011/12; only 9% led to arrests. Black, Asian and minority ethnic people are twice as likely to be stopped by police as white people. (HMIC)

Islamophobic hate crimes across Britain have risen dramatically this year. Hundreds of offences were perpetrated against the country’s Muslim population in 2013, with the Metropolitan police alone – Britain’s largest force – recording 500 Islamophobic crimes, compared with 336 incidents in 2012 and 318 in 2011.

Death penalty: NO

In 2012, of 21,843 main applicants for asylum, 11.4% (2,482) applicants were held in detention centres. In that year, 222 children were detained in immigration removal centres, with 156 being under the age of 11. (Home Office)

Rich and poor:

Alf Garnett

Alf Garnett

Oxfam revealed: “In our World Cup, England pay the penalty for successive governments’ failure to tackle the growing gap between rich and poor. We live in a country where the richest 10% earn more than the bottom 40% and five families between them own more than 12 million people.

The United Nations Development Programme, which published the Human Development Report (2014)

“The United Kingdom, unfortunately, has an exceptionally high degree of inequality.”

The report shows that the poorest 40 per cent of Britons share a lower proportion of the national wealth – 14.6 per cent – than in any other Western country.

This is only marginally better than in Russia, the only industrialised nation, east or west, to have a worse record. Measurements of the gap between rich and poor tell a similar story. The richest fifth of Britons enjoy, on average, incomes 10 times as high as the poorest fifth.

The poor in Britain are much better off in absolute terms than the poor in most Developing Nations, but they are worse off than those in other Western nations. The poorest fifth of Britons have an average per capita income 32 per cent lower than their equivalents in the US and 44 per cent lower than in the Netherlands.

913,138 people were given 3 days emergency food supplies from Foodbanks in 2013 – 2014.


2010 students: A national demonstration by students saw them storm the Tory Party HQ in protest at the education cuts. Further mass protests and occupations followed.

2011 Riots: Riots erupted in many of Britain’s cities after the police murdered a young black man in north London.

2011: Around half a million public sector workers struck against pension cuts in June and a further 2.6 million struck in November.

Another public sector one day strike is set for 10 July 2014.

Player to watch: Bobby Moore – we have been watching him since 1966, why stop now! Raheem Sterling (winger)

Costa Rica

FIFA world ranking: 28

Place in world economic league table: 81

Civil rights issues:

The Costa Rican government refuses to recognise same-sex marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships or benefits. LGBT groups report wide scale harassment.

The government has been accused of the incommunicado detaining of children under 16 for 48 hours without a juridical warrant and for 9 days with a warrant.

Death penalty: NO

Rich and poor: (figurers from Index Mundi)

In 2011, 15% of Costa Ricans were living in extreme poverty (less than $1.50 a day)

The highest 10% of Costa Ricans own 39.5% of all income and the poorest 10% 1.2%.


In May 2014 tens of thousands of teachers and education workers staged an all out indefinite strike. The strike was a result of many education workers not being paid since January

According to union leaders, teachers and other employees have faced foreclosures on their homes, while others have been jailed for being unable to make child support payments – some even arrested in their classrooms, union leaders claim.

The strike lasted nearly two weeks and the government was forced to back down.

Player to watch: Celso Borges (midfield)


FIFA world ranking: 9

Place in world economic league table: 9

Civil rights issues:

“Serious episodes of racial violence were reported. People were discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation, ethnicity and religion.

“A draft law banning the wearing of full veils in public spaces was discussed in Parliament. If implemented the ban would have a disproportionate effect on women who chose to wear a burqa or niqab as an expression of their identity or beliefs.”

“Italian authorities failed to fill the gaps in legislation punishing hate crimes. As a result, victims of crimes based on their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression were not given the same protection as victims of crimes motivated by other sorts of discrimination.”

“In 2012 over 52,000 people had arrived by sea from North Africa…The authorities’ response was flawed and resulted in violations of the human rights of asylum-seekers, migrants and refugees. Actions included collective summary expulsions and unlawful detention… people were subjected to summary removals. Conditions in reception and detention centres fell short of international standards, and asylum-seekers and refugees were left destitute.

“Reports of ill-treatment by law enforcement officials continued. There were no effective mechanisms established to prevent ill-treatment by police.”

Death penalty: NO

Rich and poor: (OECD)

The richest 1% of Italians saw their share of total income increase from 7% in 1980 to almost 10% in 2008. That of the richest 0.1% increased from 1.8% to 2.6% in 2004. At the same time, the top marginal income tax rates were almost halved: from 72% in 1981 to 43% in 2010.

Mario Balotelli, football's Robin Hood. Pic credit: Oleg Dubina

Mario Balotelli, football’s Robin Hood. Pic credit: Oleg Dubina

The average income of the top 10% of Italians in 2008 was Euros 49,300, 10 times higher than that of the bottom 10%, who had an average income of Euros 4,900. This is up from a ratio of 8 to 1 in the mid 1990s.

(ISTAT) Relative poverty, defined as a family of two living on a monthly income of 991 euros (847.61 pounds) or less, affected 12.7 percent of families in 2013, the highest level recorded since the current series of data began in 1997.

12.5 % of Italians were unemployed in 2013 and youth unemployment hit 41.2 %.

Player to watch: Mario Balotelli (forward)


FIFA world ranking: 7

Place in world economic league table: 77

Civil rights issues:

“The Inter-American Court of Human Rights ordered Uruguay to remove the obstacles blocking investigations and prosecutions for human rights violations committed during the years of civilian and military rule (1973-1985).”

“The government announced that prisoners would no longer be held in steel boxes known as “Las Latas” in Libertad Penitentiary. Following his visit to Uruguay in 2009, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture had condemned conditions in these steel modules as cruel and inhuman.” Two years on this has still not been implemented.

Death penalty: NO

Rich and poor:

Compared to other Latin American countries, Uruguay is relatively stable. However 18.6 % of the population lives below the poverty line. Although the majority of this poverty in Uruguay is not extreme. Also it is primarily located amongst the indigenous and migrant populations.

The World Bank reports that “children have become a significant portion of the poor with about 40% of Uruguay’s children born into poor families, pointing to a potentially serious problem of inter-generational poverty.”


Although the Uruguayan education system is considered one of the most advanced in Latin America, workers in this sector continue to receive low salaries.

At the end of May 2013, the Secondary School Teachers Union (Asociación de Docentes de Educación Secundaria; ADES) announced local strikes in the education sector beginning on 20 June. What started as a local issue involving a few secondary schools was soon transformed into national action.

The Union demanded a raise from their $14,000 USD annual pay to $25,000 USD. As the protest gathered momentum, workers occupied secondary schools around the country, and then expanded their occupation to include colleges and universities.

The government were forced to make major concessions.

Player to watch: Luis Suárez (attacker)


>> Read all our alternative World Cup posts


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