December 4, 2013
Paulo Winterstein – Wall Street Journal, 12/03/2013
Despite refurbishing and construction delays, including three fatal accidents, the 12 stadiums Brazil intends to employ as venues for the 2014 soccer World Cup will be ready in time for the June 12 kickoff, officials of the sport’s global governing body said Tuesday.
“We are not in crisis mode,” said Jerome Valcke, secretary-general of the Federation Internationale de Football Association, or FIFA, at a news conference in the northeastern Brazilian resort of Costa do Sauipe, where FIFA will hold a drawing on Friday for league play in the eight World Cup groups.
Brazil’s government has pledged to deliver all 12 stadiums, some renovated and some brand new, by December 31. So far, only six are ready.
December 4, 2013
While much of Brazil is focused on hosting next year’s soccer World Cup and the Olympic Games in 2016, an event of far longer-lasting economic significance is bubbling below the surface.
If all goes to plan, Brazil will sign its first major free-trade agreement next year, 15 years after talks were first launched with Europe on an ambitious deal. Such pacts can bring sustainable wealth while sporting events tend to engender only short-term and sometimes money-losing prestige.
But success or failure for Brazil relies on dealing with an unpredictable partner, Argentina.
December 3, 2013
Agence France-Presse, 12/02/2013
With the World Cup set to kick off six months from now, Brazilian officials see street protests and resurgent criminal violence in some of Rio’s slums as top security concerns.
This Latin American powerhouse is pulling out all the stops to ensure security for the hundreds of thousands of visitors expected for the planet’s most-watched sporting event, the first to be held in Brazil since 1950.
“You can protest over causes which you see as just … but remember that we are staging an event that is very crucial for our country. So treat visitors well,” Ricardo Trade, head of the World Cup’s Local Organizaing Commitee, said recently.
Brazil is used to organizing mammoth events such as the Rio carnival or Pope Francis’ visit, which drew three million pilgrims on Copacabana beach in July.
December 3, 2013
Andrew Downie – Reuters, 12/03/2013
Just four days before the draw for the 2014 World Cup, FIFA faced yet another embarrassment when a Sao Paulo prosecutor opened an investigation into possible racism by soccer’s world governing body.
A Sao Paulo state prosecutor has asked FIFA and the company it hired to organise Friday’s draw to explain why it chose two white-skinned actors to present the televised show instead of two black-skinned actors.
Two Afro-Brazilians had been suggested as possible hosts but were overlooked in favour of light-skinned model Fernanda Lima and her white husband Rodrigo Hilbert, a TV presenter, news magazine Veja reported without saying how it obtained the information.
December 3, 2013
Sam Borden- The New York Times, 12/02/2013
While all 32 teams that have qualified for the World Cup anxiously await this week’s draw to determine the groups for next year’s tournament, nowhere is the pressure as great as in Brazil.
Careers for Brazil’s players, coaches and team officials hinge on whether the team lifts the trophy. Concerns about the astronomical costs of hosting the World Cup may be, at least temporarily, assuaged by victory. Even the country’s president, Dilma Rousseff, has a stake — political analysts believe that if Brazil wins, Rousseff may coast to re-election.
It is a load to bear, and at the center of it all is Brazil’s coach, Luis Felipe Scolari, an affable barrel of a man known as Big Phil. So far, he has embraced the pressure with his two sizable hands.
December 2, 2013
Rob Walker – The Guardian, 12/02/2013
It’s easy to get a sense of how the locals in Natal – one of the venues for next year’s football World Cup – feel about the tournament. “What’s the new stadium like?” I ask a customs officer, in the arrivals hall of the city’s airport. “It must be almost built by now.”
The officer stamps my passport and looks up. “A spacecraft,” she says, deadpan. “It’s like a spacecraft has crash-landed in the middle of our town.”
Few have heard of Natal, in Brazil’s far north-east tip. Think Rio de Janeiro without the bikinis and beach joggers. But if it is unknown now, it won’t be by June 2014: Natal is one of 12 host cities for next summer’s tournament. Rumour has it that England could be playing here in the group stages.
The Arena das Dunas – named after the sand dunes on the nearby coast – looms into view on the drive from the airport.
December 2, 2013
Shobhan Saxena – The Hindu, 12/02/2013
Just hours before Sao Paulo lost the race for Expo2020 to Dubai, a huge crane crashed at the Itaquerao stadium that will host the opening match, a semi-final and four other games of next year’s FIFA World Cup. As the crane sliced through a canopy, damaged seats and crushed two workers to death on Wednesday, fresh questions were raised about Brazil’s preparedness for the biggest sporting show on the planet.
The accident came amid a scramble to meet the December 31 deadline set by FIFA to deliver all the 12 stadiums where the games would be played.
It was a bad day for the city as its dream of hosting the Expo2020 was shattered just as the mishap at the stadium, which has missed several deadlines, pushed its completion to February 2014. The Itaquerao, 94 per cent finished, was to be handed over to FIFA for inspection soon. But now, the arena has joined six other stadiums which have been struggling to meet the FIFA deadline.
November 25, 2013
Raul Gallegos – Bloomberg, 11/22/2013
To understand Brazil’s economic woes, one should consider how politics has ruined the country’s most venerated sport.
It’s no secret that the economics of the Brazilian soccer world are dysfunctional. For the most part, teams are poorly run, member-controlled organizations with histories of financial mismanagement, run by overpaid managers with little accountability. For years, soccer clubs stopped paying taxes and evaded social security obligations. And the government often rescued them from financial failure — as it may be about to do again.
According to an October piece in the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper, Brazil’s soccer clubs have run up a 4.8 billion reais ($2.1 billion) tab with the federal government. Approximately 36 percent of the total debt owed by clubs is due in the short term, according to an Oct. 25 analysis by consulting firm Pluri Consultoria. Soccer teams are heavily leveraged, and their profitability (the average profitability of the top 25 teams is 0.7 percent of annual sales) is almost nonexistent. “It is possible to say, with no shadow of a doubt, that soccer clubs would not be standing” if they operated as companies, Pluri warned.
November 22, 2013
Gabriel Elizondo – Al Jazeera, 11/21/2013
“There is no way this will be ready.” That was the thought that went through my mind back in May 2011, while I was standing on an empty dirty lot in the outskirts of Sao Paulo, gazing at a giant dirt hole as two small tractors sat idle. Not one construction worker was within sight.
The location was the future site of the new football stadium that will open the 2014 World Cup.
Back then, Sao Paulo was under intense pressure. The construction of the new stadium here was highly political and hampered by delays. There was even talk of moving the World Cup opening match to Brasilia.
But Sao Paulo is the economic hub of Brazil, the city where things get done in this country.
Fast forward to this past Wednesday.