The FIFA World Cup kicks off in 20 days and there will be so much more at stake for Brazil than just winning the cup on home soil for the first time. If they achieve this they will be just the seventh host nation to lift the trophy on home soil, France being the last to do so in 1998. Brazil failing at the first attempt back in 1950.
Many are saying that FIFA may well have shot itself in the foot by granting hosting rights to Brazil. There is no way they can back out now, but any major failures in the running of the event could well see the International Olympic Committee show Rio 2016 the red card.
The IOC will still have enough time to hedge their bets and change the host city to one that has stadia ready to use. London has already been discounted as the village accommodation has been sold, as have many of the venues, Beijing is believed to be the favoured option. The IOC however are still claiming that this is not an option.
It was reported recently that “at a comparable planning stage in 2004 Athens had done 40 percent of preparations on infrastructure, stadiums and so on. London had done 60 per cent.” Brazil has currently done 10 per cent. and they have just two years left until the Games begin.
What will be worrying for those heading to Brazil for the World Cup is that the promised transport systems are reported to be non-existent in some areas and required infrastructure work in many of the 12 host cities is not expected to be completed in time.
While this is going on Brazilians are protesting about the inflated costs and rampant corruption that has taken place, and some are saying that there are now genuine security concerns.
In December when the stadia were due to be handed over to FIFA only six of the 12 were ready on time. Incredibly with 30 days to go until the first game, three were still not completed. No wonder FIFA General Secretary Jerome Valcke was quoted as saying “We’ve both been through hell.”
“We’re supporting Brazil to ensure that it’s a success because the whole of FIFA is based around the success of the World Cup,” Valcke said. “If the World Cup is a failure then we, FIFA are in trouble.”
There would be a slight irony if it were the hosting of the World Cup in Brazil that brought about the demise of President Sepp Blatter and many of his sycophants, as it was of course a Brazilian, Joao Havelange who was the man who changed the administration of the World game and instigated those at the top enjoying “benefits” beyond belief. We should never forget that Blatter was Havelange’s anointed heir.
Many had concerns about safety in South Africa, but that nation pulled together and showcased their country superbly, and put on an event that many are still talking about; yes there was corruption there, and yes FIFA walked away with the lion’s share of the profits and left the country several white elephants, but no doubt they will say that was all part of the “legacy.”The difference is Africa welcomed the World Cup, they felt it was their turn to host the event and they were determined to show the world they were up to it.
In Brazil the challenges are more real. Many simply do not want to host the biggest sporting event in the world and the protests have been large, widespread and very vocal. It has been reported that 150,000 Police and soldiers, as well as 20,000 private security officers will be deployed across venues to ensure that the protestors do not prevent the games taking place. There are 600,000 foreign fans expected to make their way to Brazil, FIFA will be praying all goes well and there are no major incidents as it could have a huge impact on them as an organisation and on their finances. The IOC on the other hand can sit back and evaluate whether their showcase event will be safe in the hands of the Brazilians.
There is so much more at stake than just the football.