Brazil’s $3 Billion World Cup Stadiums Are Turning Into White Elephants 6 Months Later

January 23, 2015

Tony Manfred – Business Insider, 1/23/2015

Brazil spent $3.6 billion building and renovating 12 venues for the 2014 World Cup. Despite needing only eight venues to meet FIFA regulations, the country decided to build additional stadiums from scratch in far-flung cities that didn’t need 40,000-seat soccer arenas.

Predictably, those stadiums have not justified the cost in the six months since the tournament ended.The $230 million Arena Pantanal, in Cuiaba, has been closed for emergency repairs less than a year after it opened. Officials say the region’s seasonal rains led to roof leaks and the air-conditioning broke.

According to the Associated Press, the city has only two local teams that draw between 500 and 1,000 fans a game. The stadium holds 42,000 people.

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Brazil World Cup stadiums 50 percent over budget: report

December 5, 2014

Andrew Downie – Reuters, 12/4/2014

The 12 stadiums used in this year’s soccer World Cup cost 50 percent more than planned and only six of the 35 promised public transportation projects were finished on time, according to an as yet unpublished report from Brazil’s Federal Accounts Court.

Twelve arenas were remodeled or built from scratch at a cost of 8.44 billion reais ($3.26 billion), the court said in its most thorough report on World Cup spending since the tournament ended in July. The original estimate in 2010 was 5.6 billion.

The most expensive was the redevelopment of the National Stadium in Brasilia, which cost 1.44 billion reais, nearly twice its original estimate and three times the cost of some of the arenas that were completely rebuilt.


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City Tarnished by Defeat Gets to Bask in Victory

December 1, 2014

Ewan MacKenna – The New York Times, 11/29/2014

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil — Their telltale faces represented the two sides of Brazil.

One belonged to a pale and pretty woman with blond hair, the sort that popped up frequently on big screens during the World Cup. In the aftermath of Brazil’s 7-1 semifinal humiliation against Germany in July here, you came across her after she made her way from the Mineirão stadium to the high-rolling neighborhood of Savassi, where she sobbed as if she had just been rejected by her lover.

The other face belonged to a dark-skinned man and had been sculptured by hardship. Haggard, with leathery skin and bristly hair, he sat in a dive bar in the grim city center having watched Brazil’s loss on a small television. People like him had been priced out of tournament tickets, so you asked what he made of that result. He shrugged, sipped his beer and evasively said that at least the club scene would soon be returning. That was the soccer he felt a part of.

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Brazil Must Acknowledge World Cup Failure to Make Progress

November 4, 2014

Robbie Blakeley – Bleacher Report, 11/04/2014

In all walks of life there are turning points. Moments that force you to stop, contemplate what has gone and fundamentally shape the future. On a personal level that kind of event may be marriage, parenthood, achieving a career goal. An occasion that marks the “then” and “now” of an epic journey.

For Brazil and their incredibly successful national side, one such moment came on July 8, 2014. On that fateful evening, the five-time world champions suffered the most humiliating result in their history, a 7-1 mauling at the hands of Germany in the World Cup semi-final.

It was the most one-sided semi-final result in the tournament’s history. And to rub salt into an already gaping wound, Brazil’s quest to rid themselves of the 1950 ghosts and be crowned world champions on their own soil had been wiped out in less than half an hour of the contest.

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Neymar will be on Brazil’s Olympic soccer team, coach says

November 3, 2014

Nick Zaccardi – NBC Sports, 10/31/2014

Neymar will be one of three allowed over-age players on Brazil’s 2016 Olympic soccer team, its coach, Alexandre Gallo, said Thursday.

“I will take [those] three players,” Gallo said in an interview with Sportv in Brazil, according to Reuters. “Or rather two. One will be Neymar. You can’t think about Brazilian football without thinking of him.”

Gallo was a little less emphatic but still clear in July, saying he wanted Neymar on the team.

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Fifa’s third-party ownership ban: is it good or bad news for Brazil?

October 21, 2014

Fernando Duarte – The Guardian, 10/21/2014

The revelation that Barcelona paid over £20m more than they originally declared to tempt Neymar from the Brazilian seaside town of Santos to the more noble shores of Catalonia in May 2013 was noisy enough to bring down the then president Sandro Rosell and trigger an investigation into the finances of the striker’s father and main adviser, Neymar Sr.

It also shone a light on the complexity of the deal and the number of parties involved. In 2009, when Neymar Jr was aged 17 and was not even a regular in the first team, Santos already feared losing the boy’s services. To entice him to stay, the club put together a vastly improved contract negotiated by selling “chunks” of the player, accounting for 40% of his economic rights, to DIS, a fund belonging to a Brazilian supermarket mogul. By the time he was sold to Barcelona, Teisa, a group formed by some of the club’s directors, also owned a further 5% of the golden goose.

Neymar’s tale is emblematic of why Fifa’s decision to ban third-party ownership “within three or four years” will have a strong impact in Brazilian football. Without investors, Santos would have never been able to hold on to their biggest poster-boy when big clubs, Chelsea included, came knocking – even though the process also included the club pretty much relinquishing any participation in the player’s image rights.

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Big Events, Big Risks: Lessons From Brazil’s World Cup

October 2, 2014

Jacqueline Day – Forbes, 09/29/2014

For a month this past summer, billions of fans around the world stayed glued to televisions broadcasting the FIFA World Cup from Brazil. Millions more descended on Brazil to watch the games in person. They came despite the various warnings about Brazil’s readiness to host and fears of widespread, violent protests. Yet, as it should be, the tournament will mostly be remembered for the drama that played out on the pitch: from the Brazilian team’s epic collapse against Germany and the controversy that erupted when Uruguay’s Luis Suarez (some would say allegedly) bit an Italian opponent, to the emergence of Colombian star James Rodriguez.

That the tournament will be remembered first and foremost for the soccer was no small feat and, frankly, a massive surprise. Thousands of corporate VIPs, celebrities and world leaders descending upon a country known for its security, logistics and infrastructure challenges was worrisome enough. Such a backdrop, combined with the disruptive social unrest that flared unexpectedly in 2013, could have easily shifted the storyline away from the sporting competition itself. That it did not is a testament to the hard work and careful preparation of the legions of public and private sector workers, as well as to the Brazilian people’s devotion to “the beautiful game.”

The Brazilian security forces deserve plenty of credit. They took active measures to address lessons learned from the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, effectively managing and containing the smaller-scale protests that did occur, and critically, avoiding the heavy-handed tactics that only aggravated matters in 2013. They were helped by two additional factors. First, many Brazilians who had previously engaged in legitimate and peaceful protest activity during the Confederations Cup were alienated by the violent tactics of anarchist groups, the so-called Black Blocs, with whom they did not want to be associated.  Second, in keeping with custom, most Brazilians cared more about watching the matches than taking to the streets. Even Brazil’s crushing loss to Germany—an event that caused security directors to collectively hold their breath—failed to galvanize the masses to take back to the streets.

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