Huffpost WorldPost
Eric Ehrmann Headshot

The Dark Side of Brazilian Soccer

Posted: Updated:
BRAZIL DEATH SQUADS

São Paulo -- The beautiful game took another ugly turn Wednesday night when former FIFA referee and popular TV analyst Roberto Godoi was gunned down in a São Paulo suburb. Godoi, whose career was marked by several controversial calls in matches that were heavily bet outside Brazil, is in critical condition at a São Paulo hospital with four gunshots to the neck and chest after leaving a dinner with friends. Online media report police lack a clear motive in the shooting.

Brazil has been working hard to clean up its futebol image in the wake of a high profile murder case involving former Flamengo captain Bruno de Souza and other incidents linking futebol superstars Vagner Love and Adriano, among others, with prominent underworld figures. Love currently plays for CSKA Moscow, while Adriano is contracted to Roma.

These events, coupled with a big increase in stadium violence everywhere in Brazil are just part of the road rage that's brewing at the intersection of sports, gambling and bread and circuses politics as globalists redouble their efforts to build a brave new world subsidized in part by recycled underworld money and featuring professional athletes as spokespersons and role models.

The Godoi shooting has shocked Brazil's football world. But the biggest loss of this young season has been the sudden retirement of aging superstar Ronaldo from Corinthians, the São Paulo side that boasts a rowdy national fan base similar to the NFL's Raider Nation.

Playing on surgically repaired knees, the legendary striker showed flashes of what made him FIFA footballer of the year during his glory days in Europe, helping Corinthians win the Copa do Brasil in 2009. But weight problems and a thyroid condition have slowed the legendary striker and when his poor performance was a factor in a recent loss against Tolima in Colombia that knocked Corinthians out of the Libertadores Cup fans got ugly.

With Ronaldo lumbering around the pitch in thin air at an elevation of 7,500 feet above sea level Tolima players called him "tubby." And when the Corinthians charter flight landed back home in São Paulo hundreds of angry fans were at the airport to heckle the team. Riot police were present at the airport and provided team buses with an escort back to their training center. This behavior is more common to FIFA football cultures like Honduras, where 14 people were killed and former president Manuel Zelaya was brutally beaten during a match in San Pedro Sula last October.

Because Brazil is the top exporter of world class football talent to the high paying European leagues its players have become bigger targets of reputation damaging trash talk by FIFA stars. In Brazil's recent loss to Argentina's Under-20 side in Argentina, opponents called young superstar Neymar "Neymar the nothing." And Real star Cristiano Renaldo, who will never get past Barcelona's Leo Messi as the top gun in La Liga, vented his frustration by telling the media that Brazilian star Ronaldinho Gaucho is not worth the money that Flamengo is paying him for his services.

Stateside, where the NFL has banked heavily on cult of the quarterback marketing, the Cleveland Browns made a strong statement when expansion team owner Alfred Lerner hired former US Secret Service chief Lew Merletti to serve as director of security. When his son Randy became majority owner of Aston Villa in the English Premier Division, former US Marine Commandant General Charles Krulak was brought in as non-executive director of the operation. Known to Villa fans as "the general," Krulak is not shy about using the internet to mediate the concerns of team critics before they morph into ugly stadium riots.

Often cash strapped due to declining gate receipts, Brazilian futebol has been the quiet beneficiary of oligarchy capital from the former Soviet Union for the past decade. Many Brazilians of Ukranian origin living close to Turkey emigrated to Brazil during the collapse of Ottoman empire. And one of the top cable and internet providers features billboard and subway advertising that promotes the smiling image of a face in a Balaklava headgear bearing a striking resemblance to legendary Soviet Field Marshal Georgi Zhukov. Brazil's famous caipirinha alcoholic drink made with cachaca is now rivaled by its vodka-based cousin, the caipiroshka.

Global professional sports is witnessing an outbreak of match fixing, point shaving and other improper activity that should cause role model marketers to take pause. In Japan, the government has come down hard on the Yakuza and other criminal interests for fixing sumo wrestling matches. And the International Cricket Commission has just charged three Pakistani stars with corruption for spot fixing in critical test matches with England. Meanwhile allegations of point shaving by a National Basketball Association referee have, some would say appropriately, faded into oblivion.

Evidence of the connection between the global gaming and online entertainment and the intelligence community is perhaps best evidenced by new Mossad chief Tamir Pardo, who served as a consultant to the internet gambling business operated by Noam Lanir before being nominated for the position by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The first sephardi to head the intelligence organization, careerist Pardo had left his post as number two man at Mossad to join Lanir after being passed over in favor of an ashkenazi candidate. In a culture that thinks it reports to a higher authority he's now top dog in Herzliya.

Regardless of its motive, the shooting of controversial Brazilian ex-referee Roberto Godoi should remind sports fans everywhere that in a world where the common man still bets to win in hope of getting a bigger piece of the pie in today's crisis economy, its getting tougher to tell the difference between competition and entertainment.