From Scotland, George Sassoon reported: i was in Rio de Janeiro and met a number of unemployed Scots who were there, just for a football match!  I commented: This is a serious matter. When the world soccer championship was held in Japan and South Korea, I wondered how so many working people could afford the time and the money.  Presumably their families suffered.  If they were using unemployment benefits, it was a misuse of public funds. The same goes for the Olympics.  Christopher Jones writes: As much as I agree with the sentiments expressed in this note, the unemployed Scots were not using public funds; most workers pay for their unemployment insurance themselves, which is deducted at source, so it is their money to waste and not public money.

Behind this story however lurks the much larger and horrific picture of the dominance of our lives by the Sports industry.  However you wish to turn it, sports is "big business" and the illusion that the Olympic games are somehow immune is ridiculous.  In fact, I would go farther and say that the ruling political castes in western democracies have made use of sports as sort of drug to cover up their abuses, pilfering, corruption and mafia deals.  Recently in Germany, an umpire by the name of Robert Huyser (age 26) was arrested for fixing soccer games for a Croatian betting ring; he received around 50,000 euros for a game.   The head of München 1860 was arrested along with his son on charges of fraud and kickbacks received during the multi-million dollar preparations for the World Cup finals.  The very debasement of language can be traced back to sports casters.  Something has to be done.

RH: Christopher writes from France, and at this very moment the Olympic Committee is in Paris assessing its claim to host the 2012 Olympics. It is treated as a matter of great national importance. "Panem at circenses" are still an important political tool. If people are besotted with sports rivalries, they will pay less attention to politics. Is this the way democracy is supposed to work? Incidentally, unemployment insurance varies from country to country.  Usually governments pay part of the costs. This is a WAISworthy subject.  Perhaps George Sassoon can explain the case of the Scottish soccer fans.

David Crow writes:  Unwilling to pay the $500 demanded by scalpers for a ticket to the 1994 U.S. World Cup final between Brazil and Italy, I loitered outside the Rose Bowl to imbibe the atmosphere and met a Brazilian who had mortgaged his house to attend.  That was quite a gamble, especially since there was no guaranty that Brazil would get into the final--although that particular incarnation of the Brazilian national side, featuring Romario, Bebeto, Roberto Carlos, Branco, and others, was probably the best since the early 1960's edition with Garincha and Didi. 
RH: In calculating the cost of attending a championship game, one must consider not only travel expenses but also the absurd cost of tickets.  Was the Brazilian's family happy to have their home mortgaged? Championship players are not necessarily healthy.  The Argentinian Maradona is in the news again.  After treatment in Cuba, he will undergo an operation in Colombia.  He is a fat, pathetic figure.

Regarding the unemployed Scots workers who flew to Brazil to see a soccer match, Randy Black said that their unemployment benefits came from deductions to their wages.  I doubted this and said: Usually governments pay part of the costs. This is a WAISworthy subject.  Perhaps George Sassoon can explain the case of the Scottish soccer fans.  George answers: As far as I know, the unemployed Scots were on state benefits. There is no private unemployment insurance that I am aware of in the U.K. for manual workers like these. RH:But the question remains; do workers contribute to a social security system like that in the US?

Ronald Hilton 2005


last updated: April 12, 2005