Brazil has a lot riding on its World Cup team’s outcome

April 21, 2014

Lourdes Garcia-Navarro – NPR, 4/17/2014

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

We’re about to hear why sports is not always just a game. Brazil is the spiritual home of soccer, and this summer, the country’s hosting soccer’s biggest tournament. So, what happens if Brazil loses? Here’s NPR’s Lourdes Garcia-Navarro.

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, BYLINE: Imagine the moment: the crowds are cheering, the stadium – soccer’s most iconic, the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro – is packed. The world is watching on flickering screens everywhere. It’s the final, when all of the money, all of the hard work is finally going to pay off for Brazil – except it doesn’t. Brazil doesn’t win the World Cup. Stay with me. There’s a reason for this thought experiment, because history.

MARCELO BARRETO: In 1950, when Brazil lost the World Cup, that was a real tragedy. Some very serious sociologists believed that was the defining moment of Brazilian society.

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Joe Biden to attend World Cup in Brazil

April 15, 2014

The Wall Street Journal, 4/14/2014

The White House announced that Vice President Joe Biden will travel to Brazil in June to attend the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

The White House said Mr. Biden will attend a game of the U.S. national team, but didn’t provide more details. The U.S. is scheduled to play Ghana  on June 16, Portugal on June 22, and Germany on June 26 — considered one of the toughest groups in the competition. The top two teams from the group, Group G, advance to the round of 16.

In 2010, Mr. Biden was in South Africa for the World Cup. Ahead of the USA game against England,he predicted a USA upset. “[I]n the spirit of the Irish, I want to say that we’re going to beat England.” The game ended in a draw, which was a good result for the underdog American side — and inspired the New York Post headline, “USA Wins 1-1.

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Sports chief: Brazil government must act on Rio

April 8, 2014

Stephen Wilson – AP, 4/8/2014

The head of Olympic summer sports federations called for urgent action Tuesday to tackle the critical delays facing the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro and accused the Brazilian government of neglecting the crisis.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Francesco Ricci Bitti said Rio’s troubled preparations are reaching a stage where some sports may need to consider “Plan B” options for their venues.

“It’s getting very serious,” the Italian said. “We have an organizing committee with good people but without the leverage to cope with the problem. … We are scared. This is not a country like China where you can ask people to work by night. In Brazil, this could not happen. The government has to change speed.”

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Brazil minister admits sport events shortcomings

March 20, 2014

Roger Blitz – The Financial Times, 3/20/2014

Brazil should have been better prepared for this year’s World Cup and has also been too slow in getting ready for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the country’s sports minister has admitted.

The frank admission from Aldo Rebelo marks a shift in tone from the Brazilian government from its consistently defiant message that it was on top of the task of hosting the world’s next two biggest sporting events.

Asked in an FT interview what Brazil would have done differently when it was awarded the World Cup seven years ago, Mr Rebelo said: “We would have taken better advantage of the time because the decisions would not be different.

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World Cup setup could have been better, Brazil sports chief says

March 14, 2014

Raymond Colitt & Tariq Panja – Bloomberg, 3/13/2014

The top Brazilian government official responsible for this year’s World Cup soccer tournament says his country could have done everything better to prepare for global sport’s most-watched event.

The buildup to the event, the first time the competition has been staged in Brazilsince 1950, has been beset by problems including cost overruns and delays at almost every one of the 12 new and refurbished stadiums that will stage matches. Several urban mobility projects that had been promised for the monthlong soccer showpiece either won’t be ready in time or were scrapped entirely.

“What we did and are doing reflects the possibilities of hosting a Cup in a country with the conditions of Brazil,” Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo told reporters yesterday in Brasilia. “These are the historic conditions of every country. We’ll do it within our possibilities.”

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Brazil World Cup: FIFA scraps speeches to avoid protest

March 12, 2014

BBC, 3/11/2014

Football’s world governing body, Fifa, has announced that there will be no speeches at the opening ceremony of the World Cup in June.

Last year, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was booed by fans at the opening match of the Confederations Cup – a curtain-raiser for the World Cup.

In an interview with DPA news agency, Fifa head Sepp Blatter expressed concern about social unrest in Brazil.

He said he hoped the event would play a part in calming down the protests.

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Brazil inaugurates another world cup stadium

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.

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Countdown to 2014 World Cup in Brazil: Day 95

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.

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100 days away

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.

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Countdown to 2014 World Cup in Brazil: 100 days

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.

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