Andy Spalding: Brazil's Untold Success Story
Thursday, May 5, 2016 at 7:18AM
Andy Spalding in Brazil, Fifa, Olympics

The media would have us believe that Brazil is in a state of unmitigated crisis and collapse. But that’s just the surface story.

Sure, the president is subject to impeachment proceedings, a flagship state-owned enterprise is exposed as systemically corrupt, and a great many leading government officials are implicated in the corruption scheme.

But the real question is: why are we talking about this now? Why do we suddenly know so much?  The suspicions have been there for years, decades, even generations. Brazil’s corruption has deep roots in a history of colonization and military dictatorships. Any Brazilian would tell you its endemic. But if that’s so, then why, all of a sudden, are so many people going to jail?  Why all the investigations, prosecutions, and convictions?  What changed?

The answer to that question is where the real story lies. And it’s a great story -- for Brazil, for the anti-corruption movement, for the rule of law, even for democracy itself.

At the University of Richmond School of Law, our Anti-Corruption Research Team has suspected for years that this window between Brazil’s hosting of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics would produce a corruption story of some kind. But we won’t take too much credit -- we could never have predicted this, among the most significant moments in the history of the anti-corruption movement.

Still, we began a two-year study of the anti-corruption measures that Brazil has adopted in preparation for hosting the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. The result is our forthcoming ebook, “Olympic Anti-Corruption Report: Brazil and the Rio 2016 Summer Games.”

In that book, we chronicle the specific measures that Brazil has taken to reduce corruption, how those measures have resulted in the current eruption of anti-corruption prosecutions, and how Brazil’s extraordinary efforts challenge us all to rethink the meaning of the Olympic legacy. We’ll release it chapter by chapter in the months leading up to the August 5 opening ceremonies. And we hope to turn your current thinking about Brazil upside down.

The book will be downloadable for free, from the University of Richmond website. And you’ll hear all about it here, on the FCPA Blog. 


Andy Spalding is a Senior Editor of the FCPA Blog and Associate Professor at the University of Richmond School of Law. He'll be a moderator and panelist at the FCPA Blog NYC Conference 2016.

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