Brazil’s anti-FIFA protests: not little, but definitely late

April 17, 2014

Kenneth Rapoza – Forbes, 4/16/2014

As ironic as it may sound, the kingpin of FIFA World Cup soccer has managed to stage the biggest anti-FIFA protests ever.

This is Brazil, land of contrasts, where a small five cent bus fare hike last June turned into a hate fest against all that was once holy in the Land of Pele. With less than two months to go before the “beautiful game” commences in a match between Brazil and Croatia in São Paulo, millions of Brazilians want you to know that you shouldn’t come to their country to see these games. In the local and global press, word is Brazilians now hate soccer.

First some brief soccer history for American readers. Brazil is the only country not to have missed a World Cup, meaning its national teams have always won qualifying rounds every four years when the games are held. They have five World Cup championship titles and have won three in the last four decades, more than any other country. They are home to world famous footballers like Kaka, Ronaldinho and of course Pele.

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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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Work resumes in part of Brazil World Cup stadium

April 8, 2014

Tales Azzoni – AP, 4/8/2014

Construction can resume in part of the stadium where a worker died while installing temporary seats for the World Cup opener, Brazilian labor officials said Monday.

Work had been partially stopped at the Itaquerao stadium because of safety concerns following the man’s death on March 29.

Officials from the Labor Ministry inspected the venue on Monday and said most of the necessary safety measures had been implemented where the seats were being installed. Not all work at the stadium could resume, however, because construction crews had yet to install protective nets in another part of the site.

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Brazil falling short in rush to overhaul World Cup airports

April 7, 2014

Brad Haynes & Anthony Boadle – Reuters, 4/7/2014

With less than 10 weeks until the start of the World Cup, work on crucial new airport terminals has fallen behind in most of the dozen Brazilian host cities, heightening the risk of overcrowding and confusion during the tournament.

A temporary canvas terminal will be used instead of a planned airport expansion to receive fans in Fortaleza, which will host six matches including Brazil’s game against Mexico and a quarter-final. Officials are already preparing alternatives for other cities.

“Other airports have not said anything yet, but they will probably have to come up with contingencies,” said Carlos Ozores, a principal at aviation consultancy ICF International who has consulted for Brazilian airlines and airport operators.

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Brazilian World Cup tourism boom seen muted on protests

April 3, 2014

Christiana Sciaudone & Felipe Frisch – Business Week, 4/2/2014

Brazil’s biggest car-rental agency is concerned that the country has yanked in the welcome mat for World Cup soccer fans.

When the country was picked in 2007 to host the world’s most-watched sporting event, Localiza Rent a Car SA Chief Executive Officer Eugenio Mattar said he foresaw “an explosion of tourists.” Now he said he sees lukewarm demand from the event as social unrest in the country has dampened fans’ spirits and may detour tourists.

Brazilians aren’t seeing the promised benefits of being the World Cup host, with some transportation projects unfinished and stadium costs that swelled more than 40 percent to at least 8 billion reais ($3.53 billion). Protests across the country that began last June in demand of better education and healthcare turned deadly, reducing potential benefits for businesses such as Localiza, according to Mattar.

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Brazil kicks up taxes on beer, soda ahead of World Cup

April 1, 2014

Rogerio Jelmayer – The Wall Street Journal, 4/1/2014

The Brazilian government on Tuesday said it has raised taxes on beer and soft drinks just in time to reap a windfall from the soccer World Cup in June and July.

The tax increase will raise an estimated 200 million Brazilian reais ($85 million) by the end of the year to help bolster the government’s finances, according to a government official, who declined to be named for this article.

The Brazilian government has been criticized for allowing spending to rise in recent years. The slipping accounts and consequent increase in public debt was one of the reasons behind Standard & Poor’s decision last week to cut the sovereign credit rating of Latin America’s largest economy by one notch to the lowest level in the investment-grade category.

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World Cup won’t be a game changer for Brazil

March 31, 2014

Matt Day – The Wall Street Journal, 3/31/2014

As many as 600,000 tourists are expected to flock to Brazil this summer for soccer’s biggest tournament.

Will that translate into a meaningful boost to South America’s largest economy? Don’t bet on it, Moody’s Investors Service says in a report today. For all the eyeballs and visitors the World Cup will draw, they say the event is likely to have “fleeting effects” on Brazil.

Sure, tourists will crowd onto flights operated by Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes S.A.GOLL4.BR -1.71%, rent cars from Localiza Rent a Car S.A.RENT3.BR -0.27%, and guzzle Brahma beer brewed by Anheuser-Busch InBev NVBUD -0.48% subsidiary AmBev. They’ll pass through roughly $11.5 billion in new or remodeled airport terminals and stadiums.

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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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Just three months ahead of the World Cup, Brazil may be risking energy shortages in 2014

March 13, 2014

Pedro Soares & Julia Borba – Folha de S. Paulo, 3/13/2014

With just three months to go until the World Cup, there are concerns that energy may have to be rationed.

The intense heat of the summer produced an increase in energy consumption during February, while lower than average rainfall has meant that Brazil’s hydroelectric plants have been unable to produce their usual levels of energy.

According to the consulting firm PRS; the probability that there may not be enough energy to meet demand went up from 18.5% in January to 23.8%. This figure is considered very high by specialists in the area, with the usual risk being just 3%.

The Ministry of Mines and Energy considers the possibility of rationing “low”. In February, the risk of shortage was considered “very low.”

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