World Cup Fever? Let John Oliver Tell You Everything Wrong With The Organization Behind It.

For a nonprofit organization, it sure acts like a multibillion-dollar corporation. Stick around until 12:28 for the spot-on comparison between soccer and religion.

Transcript:
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I would like to talk to you about the sausage principal; the theory that says if you love something never find out how it was made. Well, tonight, I would like to show you my sausage.

[audience cheers]

Wait, wait, wait, wait, this is my sausage.

The 2014 FIFA World Cup

Oh my god! OK, the World Cup starts this week, and I am both excited, and extremely conflicted about it. Now, I know in America, soccer is something you pick your 10-year-old daughter up from. But for me and everyone else on Earth, it's a little more important.

Soccer had become Brazil's religion.

In Columbia, soccer was a religion.

Football is a religion here.

Soccer, or football like we say, it's a religion.

And their not exaggerating. When David Beckham got a tattoo of Jesus, the response of most soccer fans was, "Oh, that's huge for Jesus! That's a big deal for him!"

Here's my conflict; the World Cup is one of my favorite things, but it's organized by these guys, FIFA. You even know it as the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, or that soccer videogame you have. But for American viewers may never have encountered them, FIFA is comically grotesque organization. In fact, telling someone about the inner workings of FIFA for the first time is a bit like showing someone two girls, one cup. You do it mainly so you can watch the horrified expression on people's faces.

Because let's start where FIFA's current World Cup is about to take place, Brazil. Brazilians are excited about everything. This is how they celebrate the fact that it's just about to be Lent. They love the concept of giving up chocolate temporarily. They're also the biggest soccer fans on Earth, so they must be thrilled at the prospect of hosting the World Cup.

There's been months of unrest in some other cities' favelas, or slums, with clashes between police and residents. Here, people demonstrated against Brazil holding the World Cup.

That makes no sense. Why would you be unhappy hosting the thing that you love the most in all the world?

The government has spent more than $11 billion getting ready.

The United States team will play its second game here in the city a Manaus, in this brand new $270 million dollar stadium.

Manaus is so remote that it's almost impossible to reach by car, which is why officials had to have the stadium materials brought in by boat, shipped across the Atlantic from Portugal, and up the Amazon River.

OK, that does seem like a waste of money, especially when you consider that that stadium is only going to be used for four World Cup games. There's also no team in Manaus that can fill it afterwards, at which point it becomes the world's most expensive bird toilet. No wonder Brazilians are so upset, especially when you think about what they are actually getting in return.

Well, and they're going to make money as well as the money they're spending.

Well actually, FIFA makes the money. This is where the controversy is. The country usually doesn't make money. FIFA, the organization of the World Cup, is who makes the money.

Brazil, let me put this in terms you might understand. Think of money as pubic hair, and FIFA as wax. Oh, they're going to be all over you during the World Cup, but when they go, they're taking all the money with them, including some from places you didn't even know you had any money, leaving you teary eyed saying, "Jesus, what happened here? What happened? I'm never doing this again."

Because here FIFA's tax demands for prospective host countries.

It is FIFA, and its FIFA subsidiaries, that are fully exempt any tax whatsoever levied at whatever level; state level, municipality level, all sorts of taxes, consumption taxes, income taxes. You name it, it's all exempt.

That's right. By Brazil's own estimates, they're allowing people to forego $250 million in taxes. Somewhere, Wesley Snipes is going, "So soccer was the answer. Oh, god, it seems so obvious now."

Now FIFA says they leave a lot behind, which they do, like new laws. Because you see, once upon a time, Brazil did this.

In 2003, the Brazilian government banned alcohol from stadiums because of the enormously high death rate amongst fans.

That seems like a good idea, potentially life-saving even. The only problem is Budweiser is one of FIFA's key sponsors, and they sell a product they reflexively insist on calling "beer." And FIFA seemed anxious to protect Budweiser from a law designed to protect people, which is why FIFA's secretary general went to Brazil with a simple message.

I'm sorry to say, and maybe I look a bit arrogance, but that's something we'll not negotiate on. I mean, there will be and there must be as part of the law, the fact that we have the right to sell beer.

Yes, maybe I look a bit arrogance, but how you say, "[bleep] your laws and your public safety." Is that right?

And the amazing thing is here, FIFA won. They successfully pressured Brazil into passing a so-called "Budweiser Bill" allowing beer sales in soccer stadiums. At this point, you can either be horrified by that, or relieved that FIFA's wasn't also sponsored by cocaine and chainsaws.

And Brazil is lucky. At least they just had FIFA force alcohol on them. When South Africa hosted the World Cup four years ago, FIFA forced the creation of the FIFA World Cup Courts, which sound funny. You know, it's like going to the World Series in being dragged in front of Judge Phillie Phanatic, except FIFA's courts were no joke. Two Zimbabweans who robbed foreign journalists on a Wednesday were arrested on a Thursday, and began 15-year jail sentences the next day. That is unsettlingly fast. That's when you order Chinese food and it comes five minutes later. Thanks very much, but that was too quick. You didn't have time to make this properly.

And there was a certain irony in FIFA for setting up any kind of justice system, given the scandals that have dogged it over the years.

Football's governing body is trying to tackle its shady inner workings by suspending two executives on corruption charges.

The FIFA scandal rumbles on. Jack Warner, who was at the center of bribery accusations has resigned as vice president.

There's been so many corruption scandals that FIFA have had to deal with.

Bribery and FIFA go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Yeah, but they shouldn't, though. Peanut butter and jelly are supposed to go together. FIFA and bribery should go together like peanut butter and a child with a deadly nut allergy. NO, DOVER, NO! IT'S FOR YOUR BROTHER!

If you think FIFA can't get anymore cartoonishly evil, this is their headquarter's actual boardroom. That's right, FIFA apparently modeled where they met on the war room from "Doctor Strangelove." That is Exhibit A for an organization that does not give a shit what you think about them. And yet, the head of FIFA maintains that they are merely a humble, non-profit organization.

We are a non-profit organization, and we have to remain a nonprofit organization.

A non-profit with over a billion dollars in the bank?

Yeah, but this is a reserve.

A reserve of a billion dollars? When your rainy day fund is so big, you've got to check it for swimming cartoon ducks, you might not be a non-profit anymore.

The man you just saw is Sepp Blatter, and even his name should have been a red flag. If your name is Sepp, at the bare minimum, you've strangled someone in a bar fight. That's just a fact. And let me just give you a taste of Sepp Blatter as a human being.

Recently, he was asked, "How should women soccer be made more popular?" He said, "Well, they should wear shorter shorts."

Great idea, put the ladies in hot pants call it "foxy soccer", and while you're at it, tighten up the jerseys, maybe replace the ball with a plate of hot wings and [bleep] it, let's just open a Hooters.

FIFA, the humble non-profit, even recently spent $27 million dollars to fund "United Passions," a fictionalized version of their history starring, for some reason, Tim Roth as Sepp Blatter. And this movie, like FIFA itself, looks terrible.

We'll be the Fédération Internationale de Football Association.

FIFA.

The first World Cup will be held in Uruguay.

You have everything you need to run our family. But you know, the slightest error and you're out.

Who makes a sports film where the heroes are the executives? And the crazy thing is you don't need two hours and Tim Roth because the greatest film about Sepp Blatter has already been made. Its 10 seconds long and it's on YouTube.

[audience applauds and laughs]

That is the one time you can genuinely say, "I'm glad that old man fell off that stage."

But perhaps the worst part of FIFA its not even its past or its present, it's its future. because the host the 2022 World Cup has already been decided.

The winner to organize the 2022 FIFA World Cup is Qatar.

Qatar? There's between one and 50 reasons why that is an awful idea.

Summer temperatures in Qatar can reach some 50 degrees Celsius, a difficult environment to hold a professional sporting event outdoors.

Fifty degrees Celsius is 122 degrees Fahrenheit. You are hosting the World Cup somewhere where soccer cannot physically be played. That's like if the the NFL chose to host the Super Bowl in a lake. Now, there are now allegations that some FIFA executives took bribes to put the World Cup in Qatar and I hope that's true, because otherwise, it makes literally no sense. And not just because of the weather, but because of the working conditions.

Qatar is a slave state in the 21st century.

A migrant worker can't leave the country without an exit visa. That visa has to be approved by his employer.

Who has your passport?

My passport is in the main office.

So you're trapped here?

Yes.

We've got coffins coming home every day. More than a worker per day on average is dying.

Conservatively, from the figures of just two countries, India and Nepal, more than 4,000 workers will die before a ball is kicked off in 2022.

So what you essentially saying is, the Qatar World Cup is shaping up to be the most deadly Middle East construction project since this one. And by this point, I hope I've proven to you that FIFA is just appalling. And yet, I'm still so excited about the World Cup next week. It's very hard to justify how I can get so much joy from an organization that's caused so much pain, other than going back to right where we started.

Soccer, or football like we say, it's a religion.

But it's not just that, it's an organized religion and FIFA is its church. Just think about. Its leader is infallible, it compels South American countries to spend money they don't have building opulent cathedrals, and it might ultimately be responsible for the deaths and shocking numbers of people in the Middle East.

[audience applauds]

But, but, but, but for millions of people around the world like me, it is also the guardian of the only thing that gives their lives any meaning. And if that comparison does not make Americans love soccer, then frankly, nothing will.

There may be small errors in this transcript.
About:

This video stars the great John Oliver in his new show, "Last Week Tonight." See more clips on the "Last Week Tonight" YouTube page.

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Posted By:
Rollie Williams

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