1,000-day countdown to Brazil World Cup blighted by problems

by Toby Manhire / 29 September, 2011
Delays, overspending and talk of cronyism and corruption are plaguing the buildup to the 2014 football World Cup.
This rugby World Cup thing is a piece of cake.

Brazil has just passed the 1,000-day countdown to hosting the football World Cup, and it hasn’t a lot to celebrate. The occasion has been “marred by construction delays as striking workers and government foot-dragging hurt preparations”, reports the South American news agency MercoPress. Delays to building projects for stadiums, airports and public transport are made worse by rapid inflation.

Already there are signs of an outbreak of overspending across the country, together with accounts of “kickbacks and cronyism”.

Brazilian blogger Cão Uivador (Howling Dog) predicts a procession of underhand behaviour. “With just 1,000 days to go, nothing is ready; if it continues the World Cup and Brazil will be put to shame, so that anything goes, save your own skin, overcharge, screw the environment, stuff the poor who are ‘impeding progress’ – and so on.”

In Rio, a campaign has been launched to give voice to the "thousands of people are being forcefully evicted from their homes to make room for office buildings, stadiums and roads".

It gets worse. This from the Inside World Football blog:

Ricardo Teixeira, head of the Organising Committee for the 2014 World Cup who only two months ago described English journalists as corrupt, is reportedly to be investigated for alleged money laundering and tax crimes ...

If the latest twist proves Teixeira guilty, it will do considerable damage to FIFA's already flagging reputation as well as the 2014 World Cup organisation.

Brazilian legend Pele is optimistic. Quite apart from the renowned “natural beauty, biodiversity and culture, creativity and contagious happiness of the Brazilian people”, he enthuses in an op-ed, we can confidently expect that “other attributes, including competence, seriousness, innovation, transparency, sustainability, diversity, and democracy, will serve to further captivate those arriving in Brazil.”

But then he’s an official ambassador for the tournament – and he’s permanently upbeat.

More effusive verbiage comes from the Fifa World website: “Countdown clocks were switched on in Host Cities such as Recife, Natal and Cuiaba, while teams of graffiti artists began adorning the fences surrounding Brasilia’s Estadio Nacional with FIFA World Cup-themed artwork.” Elsewhere on the site came the confident claim that “Brazil already starting to look like a country that is ready to host a FIFA World Cup”.

No mention from the official site, believe it or not, of the concern being expressed (read: pressure being heaped) by the world body on the Brazilian hosts.

Oh, and if a few late trains and congestion at the waterfront keep you up at night, at least there’s little chance of the police firing rubber bullets at the crowd after a controversial decision, as happened in Brazil the other day.

Although, if Wayne Barnes is put in charge, you never know.
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