Sunday, 5 December 2010

World Cup: Forget Russia and Qatar, It's Brazil 2014 We Should Be Worrying About

AS the dust settles on the bizarre choice of Russia and Qatar as hosts for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, problems are mounting for Brazil, who will host the 2014 tournament... and the 2016 Olympics.

Over the last week, 37 people have been killed, 123 arrested and another 130 detained after police invaded Rio’s Alemao favela – that’s Brazilian for a shanty town - as authorities begin their preparations for the great sporting events to come. Today, Brazil announced they will station troops in the Alemao and Penha districts to ensure hundreds of drug traffickers who had made the areas their stronghold would not return.

Defence Minister Nelson Jobim said the army would be able to draw on its years of experience heading the United Nation's peacekeeping mission in Haiti.

Police spokesman Mario Sergio Duarte, fighting the drug gangs with armoured cars and hundreds of armed police said: "We will not retreat in our decision to bring peace to Rio. We are in our final stages of reaching the traffickers in the Alemao complex."

But the police effort is being hampered by a major crime wave, with armed gangs setting fire to cars and setting up road blocks to rob passing traffic. And South Africa thought they had problems before 2010!

The disturbing news doesn’t stop there. Though the Brazilian economy is technically booming, the gap between haves and have nots is growing. Public fury over the spiralling costs of hosting FIFA’s great showdown is burning – and delays in construction are causing serious headaches.

On top of that, Giovanni Bisignani, the CEO of Brazil’s International Air Transport Association says his airports are “a growing disaster” and admits they will be unable to cope during the World Cup. With few long-distance trains and a decrepid motorway system, the huge distances between cities will be a major problem for Brazil.

The International Olympic Committee has also expressed concerns about Brazil’s ability to cope before their 2016 Summer Games.

Brazilian Football Federation President Ricardo Teixeira’s main problem centres on the vast city of Sao Paulo, where the local Morumbi stadium was condemned as inadequate to host games in 2014.

That means a new stadium has to be built in the area of Pirituba, but city officials have informed Teixeira the stadium, which is due to host the opening game of the next World Cup, cannot be started yet. The CBF are now considering the Corinthians stadium in Itaquera as a possibility.

In Rio, the legendary Maracana Stadium is being renovated to host the final and the opening ceremony, at a cost of around £1bn.

South Africa’s Danny Jordaan, who spent 16 years producing a successful 2010 World Cup despite a similar range of problems, said: “The Brazilian economy is doing very well, this county is in the take off face and this World Cup can help them.”

But he adds: “You cannot have a celebratory event without it being safe. All the components of organisation must be under-pinned and wrapped in a security plan.

“The thing I would tell Brazil is to have the legal framework in place - the national laws, city regulations, also sort out roles and responsibilities, who does what. Security is very important, but it is also a complex issue.

"There must be a single security plan and one national command and control. Fans follow their teams from cities to cities, so there must be one single security plan that covers all stadiums.”

Speaking at the Soccerex conference in Rio, Jordaan added: “Brazil will face questions about its stadiums, its hotels, 'will it all be ready on time?', and questions about crime. I faced these questions for 16 years.

“In the end the media accepted, and we insisted, that we would host the best World Cup ever".

"The World Cup must link to an increase in tourism. Before the World Cup, we got 300 Mexican visitors a year - this year there were 50,000.

"We have two or three problems around stadia, but we are not going to demolish them though. All are owned by the cities, but cities are not entities that that I think can run the stadiums properly. So we have to move them on to a sports marketing company or to a [football] club."

"The Maracana [in Rio] must be one of the best football stadiums in the world, but it is a place where you would want to see a museum and restaurants, to spend a day there - maybe have conference facilities too.

"Brazil at the moment must be the envy of the world, hosting both the World Cup and the Olympics.”

Hardly. FIFA president Sepp Blatter knows Russia and Qatar have a lot of work ahead of them if they are to successfully hold their World Cups. They claim to have the time and the money. But for Brazil, time is running out.

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