Editorial: Mainstream media failed to highlight Brazil’s environmental issues during the FIFA World Cup

Photo credit: The Volt Report.
As the month-long football tournament the FIFA World Cup has now drawn to a close with Germany beating Argentina 1-0 in the final, it’s been a month full of sporting glory covered extensively in the world’s news organisations, magazines and on social media.

But the world media has failed to use the World Cup to highlight the environmental crises and issues Brazil faces and on the positive side, have failed to mention the positive steps the host country has taken. For instance, implementing solar power at some of the World Cup stations as well the solar manufacturer Yingli Solar being one of the main sponsors.

This blog believes that the beautiful game should be celebrated, but we also believe that football has a critical role in helping to highlight the environmental challenges our world faces. The 2014 World Cup could have been the beginning of the blueprint of moving to integrate sustainability into football, but world media have failed to capitalise on that. Let’s first be clear; we don’t believe that Brazil conducted an environmentally sustainable World Cup, but they took some important steps that in mainstream media have gone unnoticed.  

Allowing Yingli Solar to become one of the main sponsors deserves to be praised. The almost constant banner of Yingli Solar would have gotten the word and key message of solar into more homes than it has ever been before. Three of the World Cup stadiums had implemented solar power into the architecture of the stadium. That story needs to be told but sadly it wasn’t, furthermore it should be used as a blueprint for creating solar stadiums across the globe. Deploying solar power on sports stadiums is another genius example of how solar power can be deployed. That might still happen, but questions have to be asked on why did we not hear a single mainstream story about this throughout the month-long sporting event?

Despite one of the stadiums having been build in the Amazon, we did not hear one single mainstream story or one football commentator noting the tragic transformation the world’s largest rainforest has seen since the 70’s largely due to deforestation, but also mining, oil exploration and destructive mega dams resulting in indigenous people being forced to flee their homes. Nor were we told the story of the impacts on deforestation rates on human health, global biodiversity, rain and wind patterns.

We accept that of course that the World Cup should mainly focus on football, but there are times when commentators and sports journalists are desperately looking for background information and facts and stories about the host country – this is where this blog believes mainstream media failed and failed badly.
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