The World Cup: Politics behind the Play

As the politics and culture writer for the Rhino Press, it’s my job to write about the politics of things, cultures included. For better or for worse (usually for worse), politics and culture are often intertwined, as they were during this year’s FIFA World Cup held in Brazil. Here is what the World Cup results signify in the greater scheme of things.

Brazil’s defeat spells trouble for President Dilma Rousseff

Their crushing 7-1 defeat against Germany marks the most humiliating experience for a home team in FIFA history, and we’ve written all about it here.

Tens of millions of Brazilians watching the game that day expected at least an honorable exit since Neymar’s injury; after all, Brazil is widely recognized as the historically best soccer country in the world.  Instead, the hopes and dreams of Brazilians everywhere were knocked to the floor and beaten. Their defeat spells trouble for Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, who is running for reelection in October. Having already declined in growth with steadily rising inflation under her leadership, the country’s humiliation will certainly play a role in the election. As silly as it sounds, soccer affects politics.

Germany’s victory is a victory for Chancellor Angela Merkel

Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Although Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor since 2005, doesn’t face reelection for another few years, her political stature will only grow with Germany’s victory. An avid soccer fan, Merkel has attended FIFA World Cup games before having any political clout, but her steady appearances at Germany’s games this year threw her face into the spotlight. She was there when Germany defeated Portugal 4-0, she was there when Germany blew Brazil out of the water 7-1, and she stood by FIFA president Sepp Blatter through the entire World Cup final against the Argentinians. During the medal ceremony, she shook hands with every player, hugging the German ones. She can even be seen in photos with the German national team. The greatest fan of the greatest team is Germany’s leader herself.

While Rousseff faces increasing discontentment for things entirely out of her control, Merkel’s reputation soars because of things entirely out of her control. Unfortunate as it is, games played out of the political arena can influence elections. Historically, that impact has been small. But a 7-1 destruction may change things for Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff, as a World Cup victory will for Angela Merkel.

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