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Brazil’s Lula, Who Pushed for Olympics and World Cup, Heads to Jail

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Brazil's Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is behind bars after being found guilty of corruption. Photo: LEONARDO BENASSATTO/REUTERS

By Evan Weiner |

More than a decade ago, the international sports world fell in love with the BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India and China – and decided those countries had economies that were really heating up and it was time to get a piece of the action.

The International Olympic Committee in 2001 gave Beijing the 2008 Summer Olympics. In 2007, the IOC decided Sochi, Russia was the Black Sea resort area that would be perfect for the 2014 Winter Olympics. In 2009, the International Olympic Committee met in Copenhagen and demanded world leaders to get in front of them and present a case as to why their country deserved the Olympics.

In Copenhagen, US President Barack Obama appeared before the Olympics leaders as did Brazil’s President who was simply know as Lula. The IOC wanted a South American Olympics and even Obama admitted that Lula was “the most popular politician on Earth”. Luiz Lula da Silva got Brazil the 2016 Olympics. Two years earlier Lula and Brazil landed the 2014 World Cup.

It was easy to see why the two most powering international sporting groups, the IOC and FIFA, wanted Brazil. The country had oil, lots of it, and had the money to invest in sporting events. But the global economy cratered in September 2008 and the price of oil dropped significantly.

Lula was still popular when he left office in 2011. But the drop in oil prices and the staggering costs of the World Cup and the Olympics ended Brazil’s ascendancy into the world of the big boy’s economy. Brazil’s governments were corrupt and that recently impacted Lula who was running again for President. He surrendered to authorities and is serving a 12-year jail sentence for corruption.

Meanwhile, the sports legacy is this: The majority of the stadiums built for the 2014 World Cup are wasting away unused and the 2016 Rio Olympics accumulated a mountain range of debt.

By Evan Weiner For The Politics Of Sports Business

This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.

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