By Alhaji Alhasan Abdulai
Being a soccer loving nation most people in Ghana are filled with excitement following the third successive qualification of the Black Stars team to feature in the world cup tournament in Brazil this summer.
As a result, credible travel agencies such as Kenpong Travel and Tours Agency are busy enlisting hundreds of passengers to travel to Brazil to watch soccer matches from June. ‘AKUABA cruises’, a tourist outfit has also launched a program to ferry 950 Ghanaian supporters on a luxury ship from Tema to Brazil to watch and support the Black Stars and back.
With the approval of authorities concerned, most radio, televisions and newspapers in Ghana are busy publishing advertisement and promotion materials to whip up interest in the coming events.
While every Ghanaian considers the euphoria in Ghanaians as healthy development, the authorities and the travel agencies have a duty to sensitize Ghanaians particularly the potential travelers on the true state of affairs in Brazil currently. This way every would be traveler to Brazil in the coming month would know what they are letting themselves into.
Brazil is no stranger to major events. After hosting many soccer and other sporting events of the magnitude of soccer world cup , 3 million Brazilians took part in a mass for Pope Francis last summer.
Brazilians are also accustomed to holding large scale events such as yearly carnivals across the country that attract many tourists across the globe.
From this perspective, the World Cup should not have been too much of a challenge to Brazil.
This year, however, things may be different. Brazil is facing a host of new challenges for which they may have been taken by surprise.
Due to the World Cup’s added advantage to International tourism, media attention to Brazil is at an all-time high, within and outside the nation.
The political leaders asked to stage the biggest soccer events because it is likely to open up the nation and ensure prosperity for it.
However Brazil is facing difficult tasks that must be appreciated by Nigeria and all the nations that are qualified to participate in the tournament including Ghana.
Here are just a few of the challenges the nation faces as it prepares for the World Cup:
1. Cost of the event. In the last year, Brazil has experienced not only an increase in its inflation rate but a rise in social unrest. According to official statistics the inflation rate is around 5.4 percent.
The problem is that inflation rates are based on a basket of goods and often this basket does not reflect real life.
The inflation rate and the huge cost of stadia buildings have sparked off emergence of major social protest movements across the country.
The cost of running a major event, such as the World Cup (or an Olympic Games), is so high that there are those that joke that the nations and cities that lose their bid are really the winners!.
They say this because the poor have remained poor while huge edifices are built at huge costs to the nation.
2. Timing. The World Cup would occurre within the same year as presidential election in Brazil. This means that opposition groups and potential anarchist groups may consider the World Cup as an international stage on which to embarrass the government.
3. Police and Rio de Janeiro’s famous ‘favelas’. The government has sought to quell the violence in Rio de Janeiro’s famous shantytowns.
The word favela was changed to “cidade pacificada” (pacified communities), and the police were to have become part of the local communities.
Unfortunately due to numerous reasons, the policy failed and Brazil has now had to call in the military to assure that civil unrest does not ruin the nation’s image during the games.
4. Inconsistent preparation across the nation. Some venues such as Rio de Janeiro have completed work on their stadia and have spent a great deal of time and money on infrastructure. Other stadia and infrastructure, however, may not be finished until the last moment, and in a few cases, questions have arisen regarding the quality of stadia workmanship, hotel availability and food safety.
5. Terrorism. Brazil has traditionally never been a place for terrorists. With the coming of the World Cup, however, no one can guarantee emergence of international problems such as terrorism and other conflicts on Brazil’s doorstep. This means that Brazil has not only to deal with a high crime rate but also the potential for acst of terrorism. Therefore the authorities are required to take precautionary measures to deal with any such incidents that can occur for the first time.
6. Hooliganism. One major requirement of the World Cup is that both players and property must be protected not only against the actions of thieves and terrorists, but also against the actions of foreign fans whose team that lose a match could chose to express their anger physically.
An international event such as the World Cup requires that security must not only be at the highest level inside the stadia but also outside them.
7. Media. The tournaments would reure the promotion of good media coverage. This is because negative media coverage can be be dangerous and be felt for years to come after the world cup tournaments.
8. Weather and related issues. Many of Brazil’s stadia are not covered.
However rainstorms are less of a problem in the arenas. Major traffic snarls may be expected in the case of a major storm. Therefore we authorities must beware of the potential problems.
Should traffic problems occur during a terrorist act or other security challenge, the system may well experience a major crisis.
These challenges do not mean that Brazil has not been preparing for the World Cup. New construction works for the world cup matches are ongoing and police and private security professionals have been undergoing special courses, and national and state governments have prepared a great many contingency plans.
As in any major event, what really matters is not the initial cost of the events but what happens in the aftermath of the events.
It is not too late for Ghana’s authorities to take action to sensitize people of Ghana on goings on in Brazil.
This piece has been produced to prompt the authorities in Ghana and other parts of Africa to take steps
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