Joseph "Sepp" Blatter, the ambitious president of FIFA, must be pulling his few remaining hairs out of his head because his dreams of taking the so-called Beautiful Game to world sports domination are turning to nightmares. New squalid facts, claims and rumors are emerging every week suggesting that the game may be beautiful but some of its leading figures are too close to dark and shadowy criminal forces.

In Brazil, you might think there would be general rejoicing. Brazil is described as the spiritual home of soccer because of the exhilarating talent of its players. Brazil is the host of the World Cup that kicked off Thursday, and most pundits predict that Brazil will pick up its sixth World Cup championship when the final is played on July 13.

But the local mood in Brazil has been sour. From Copacabana beach and the fine houses of Flamengo in Rio de Janeiro to the favelas of many cities, people have been out on the streets demonstrating against government spending on ornate stadiums that will be hardly used when the World Cup teams have gone home. Brazil's bill for hosting the tournament has soared to $11 billion, against an original cost of $1 billion.