Brazil Faces 2014 World Cup Challenges

Brazil is set to host the 2014 FIFA World Cup.   But observers say the government there has been dragging its feet in preparing for the games. They say airports and stadiums aren’t ready to accommodate the millions of football fans expected to attend the tournament. 

Brazilian football fans were let down this year during the World Cup in South Africa when their nation’s team was eliminated by the Netherlands in the quarter final round.

But in 2014 Brazil will have home field advantage when they host this championship tournament. 

It will be the first time since 1986 that a Latin American nation holds the games.  Brazil last hosted the World Cup in 1950. 

Not ready

But Brazil still has a long way to go to prepare for the games, says Jorge Luiz Rodrigues, a sports editor at the Brazilian newspaper O Globo.  He says the nation’s transportation infrastructure is not ready at all to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of foreigners and the millions of Brazilians expected to attend the matches spread out across the country. 

“I think the biggest challenge is the airport issue,” Rodrigues said.  “The airports of Brazil are not prepared for the competition, we have to refurbish all of them of the 12 host cities.”

Rodrigues says that 5000 kilometers separate the northern most host city Manaus with the southernmost city Porto Alegre, and there are currently no direct flights. 

But aside from airports, Rodrigues says the most basic of football infrastructure is also in need of repair ahead of the World Cup.

“I think the stadiums, we have wasted a lot of time, two and a half years since Brazil was chosen as host nation by FIFA in October 2007,” Rodrigues said.

Divided attention

Rodrigues says that politicians have only been focused on the month’s presidential elections and have so far neglected their responsibilities to prepare for the World Cup. 

Another concern for the tournament is the high crime rate that plagues many Brazilian cities.

But Andrea Gouvea Viera, a social welfare counselor for the Rio de Janeiro government says that concerns about increased violence directed at tourists never materializes whenever Rio hosts major events. 

“It’s a problem that never appeared in any event we’ve had in Rio de Janeiro,” Viera said.  “The concern about security is the concern we have about our daily life.  So I think  people give a lot of attention to this issue, but its not an issue that could prevent Rio to receive an event.”

Possible benefits

Viera is more concerned with how the World Cup will benefit the residents of Rio de Janeiro and other cities once the games are over.   She says Brazilians have been let down before.

“Well, we had a very bad experience with the Jogos Americanos, the American games,” explained Viera.  “We spent a lot of money and nothing happens to improve the lives of the people.  We are very worried about how we spend the money. SO we have to be very alert of what the government spends the money.”

Sports editor Jorge Luiz Rodrigues is optimistic that the World Cup will have a long lasting benefit for the Brazilian people. He points to the improvements to South Africa’s bus network, hospitals and airports. 

“South Africa is free for only 16 years, it was a big challenge for them, more than Brazil,” Rodrigues said.  “And they delivered it, they organized it well.  And I think Brazil could do the same for the FIFA World Cup 2014.”

Rodrigues says that the improvements made for the World Cup will also help with the preparations for 2016 when Rio hosts the Olympics. VOA

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