March 10, 2014
Tales Azzoni – The Associated Press, 3/9/2014
Brazilian officials inaugurated the Arena da Amazonia in the jungle city of Manaus, the ninth World Cup stadium to become available for soccer’s showcase event. Three still have to be finished, including the one hosting the opener in Sao Paulo in about three months.
The Arena da Amazonia wasn’t fully completed Sunday but local authorities inaugurated the venue with a regional championship match with nearly 20,000 people in attendance, including workers who helped to build the venue.
The 44,000-capacity stadium will host four World Cup matches in June, including England vs. Italy and United States vs. Portugal.
March 10, 2014
Jack Bell – The New York Times, 3/9/2014
The star-crossed stadium in the rain forest was given its first official run-through on Sunday in Manaus, Brazil, with a quarterfinal match in a regional championship.
The Arena da Amazônia was the site of an accident last month in which a worker was killed when a crane collapsed. It is one of 12 venues that will be used for the World Cup, which begins in June. The accident in February once again shined an uncomfortable light on Brazil’s stuttering preparations for the tournament. The stadium was one of six that were not completed by the end of 2013, as had been required by FIFA.
According to The Associated Press, the stadium cost nearly $290 million, about $70 million more than originally expected. Three workers died during construction, including the Portuguese man who was killed while a crane that had been used to construct the stadium roof was being disassembled.
March 5, 2014
Wright Thompson – ESPN, 3/4/2014
We landed in Brazil 102 days before the first game of the World Cup, and nobody cared. Well, we cared, because we’re from an American television network and paid to notice these things, but nobody else did. It was the final weekend of Carnival, and the country had basically stopped all operations except drinking and dancing. After Tuesday, which happens to be both Mardi Gras and exactly 100 days out from the start of the World Cup, Brazil can turn its attention to the business of hosting a soccer tournament. Then all the questions — about the danger of protests interrupting the games, about the nation’s infrastructure handling so many sudden visitors — can be answered.
Earlier, we went to a packed local bakery to get some sandwiches in us — lay down a Carnival base — and sitting in the back corner, I caught up with my interpreter Flavio, who’s been with me on three trips to Brazil now. He described the last few weeks here. A journalist had been killed by a protestor’s rocket during a demonstration in Rio, and in Sao Paulo, cops were using MMA-style armbars on protestors.
He told me about a law politicians are trying to push through the Brazilian senate before the World Cup. It is called the Anti-Terrorism Bill, and it would criminalize many of the actions of protestors. Anyone arrested during a demonstration could potentially be labeled a terrorist. Acts of vandalism could be seen as terrorism and punished as such. A Brazilian military document described even peaceful protestors as “opponent forces.” Tin soldiers and Nixon coming. A line is being drawn between the government and its people, because of a sporting event. Opponents might have beaten back the law, but there’s still time.
March 5, 2014
Jack Bell – The New York Times, 3/4/2014
The 2014 World Cup begins on June 12, when Brazil plays Croatia in the opening match. Reporters and editors for The Times will count down to the start of the tournament each day with a short capsule of news and interesting tidbits.
Tim Cahill is certainly among the most traveled soccer players in the world.
As he gets ready for his third trip to the World Cup finals with Australia, Cahill was back in England preparing for an international friendly on Wednesday against Ecuador at a place he knows well — Millwall’s The Den.
March 3, 2014
Simon Romero – The New York Times, 2/28/2014
IN his fits of rage, Eduardo Paes, the mayor of Rio de Janeiro, has thrown a stapler at one aide. He threw an ashtray at another. He berated a councilwoman in her chambers, calling her a tramp. Stunning diners at a crowded Japanese restaurant where he was being taunted by one constituent, a singer in a rock band, he punched the man in the face.
While Mr. Paes, 44, has apologized to the targets of his wrath after each episode, he adds that he is under a lot of stress. Normally clocking 15-hour days as he tears up and rebuilds parts of Rio in the most far-reaching overhaul of the city in decades, Mr. Paes is finding that consensus over his plans is elusive.
“Don’t ever in your life do a World Cup and the Olympic Games at the same time,” Mr. Paes recently said at a debate here on Rio’s transformation, making at a stab at gallows humor over the street protests that have seized the city over the past year. “This will make your life almost impossible.”
March 3, 2014
Tales Azzoni – The Associated Press, 3/3/2014
World Cup organizers will mark 100 days to go on Tuesday with work still to be done on stadiums and infrastructure in the 12 host cities.
As national teams enter their final phase of preparations — Wednesday in the only date this year before mid-May that all players are available to national teams for exhibitions — the Brazilian government is trying to ensure the country will be prepared for the 32-nation tournament, which opens June 12. Brazil had nearly seven years to prepare after winning the bid in 2007.
There are four stadiums still under construction, and work outside many venues is far from over. Airports likely won’t have all the work completed, and many urban projects initially expected to be ready for the World Cup won’t be finished until after the event.
February 25, 2014
Joe Leahy – The Financial Times, 2/24/2014
For weeks workers at São Paulo’s Itaquerao stadium have been clearing up the damage from a deadly construction accident in November. A giant roof girder crashed through a wall of the unfinished 68,000-seat arena, killing two labourers and casting a pall over Brazil’s preparations for this year’s football World Cup.
“People working in there say it won’t be ready in time for the World Cup,” says Paulo Arminio, who sells snacks to construction workers from a van outside the venue and who witnessed the accident.
The government and Fifa, football’s global governing body, insist the stadium will be ready for the world’s most popular sporting event, which begins in June.
February 21, 2014
Tarqi Panja – Bloomberg, 2/20/2014
The threat of mass public protests returning to Brazil’s streets during soccer’s World Cup this year won’t push the sport’s governing body into hiding, FIFA’s director of security said.
Brazil’s biggest protests in a generation erupted last June during the Confederations Cup, a warm-up event for the World Cup, which has become a totem for opposition groups. They’ve seized on the event to complain about a range of issues including the amount of money being spent on sports in a country with poor health and education funding.
Protests initially sparked by a rise in bus fares have continued sporadically since then, with demonstrators brandishing anti-FIFA insignia and chanting against the Zurich-based organization. Police used tear gas and rubber bullets near all the Confederations Cup venues.
February 20, 2014
Tales Azzoni – AP, 2/20/2014
Officials in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre have come up with a solution to pay for the temporary structures that have to be installed outside the Beira-Rio stadium during the World Cup, FIFA said Thursday.
The stadium owner is required by contract to pay for the structures, but last week the president of the club that renovated the venue said he wanted to share the costs and warned the city could be excluded as a host if a solution wasn’t found.
It was the latest problem to hit Brazil’s World Cup preparations and worry FIFA with less than four months before the tournament begins. And it came as FIFA is in Brazil to inspect venues and decide the fate of the neighboring city of Curitiba, which on Tuesday was allowed to stay in the World Cup despite significant delays in stadium construction.
February 19, 2014
Paul Kiernan & Matthew Futterman – Wall Street Journal, 2/18/2014
Brazilian officials are racing to prepare for the 2016 Olympic Games, hoping to avoid the embarrassment suffered this month by their counterparts in Sochi, Russia, as a number of projects are behind schedule.
With little more than two years remaining before Rio de Janeiro is set to host the Summer Games, the 15 projects comprising Rio’s Deodoro Sports Complex—where events including canoe slalom, fencing, pentathlon and shooting will be held—have yet to be fully defined. Only four of the total 52 construction projects outlined last month by the Public Olympic Authority are complete.
Organizers of the Rio event have a chance to learn from this year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, where construction delays led to spiraling budgets and some unwanted publicity from visitors who arrived to unfinished hotel rooms. Jean-Claude Killy, chairman of the International Olympic Committee’s coordinating commission for Sochi, said this week that the planners for the 2016 Games don’t have a “tenth of a second” to waste.