The FIFA World Cup will be returning to Brazil for the first time in more than 50 years.
This has raised expectation levels through the roofs, but it has not been without several controversies. The summer showpiece event will be one of the most watched events on television. It is also expected to draw several million visitors to Brazil in the summer.
Brazil was the favorite to get the right to host the competition in 2003, but the decision was officially taken only in 2007. Still a period of seven years provided the nation with a lot of opportunities to develop every aspect of the country in preparation for this tournament.
Boost for Economy
The World Cup 2014 was expected to not only provide jobs for almost a decade, but it was also expected to improve its facilities like infrastructure and transport, which were struggling to cope with the booming economy. Brazil has become one of the fastest developing nations in the world in the last decade. Airports and road infrastructure, though, were still grossly underdeveloped in several parts of the country.
Those expecting a major improvement in this regard were dealt a huge blow after politics has threatened to waste much of the $ 8 billion revenue that is expected from this competition. Rather than improving various aspects of the nation, politics and infighting have resulted in Brazil struggling to even complete the stadiums.
The ultimatum by FIFA that they would shift in the competition to other venues if Brazil were not able to comply with the deadlines even for basic aspects like stadium has shifted the importance towards stadium construction activity in recent years. This has come at a big price, as most of the infrastructure aspects of the country were neglected.
Even though Brazil is one of the highest producers of world-class footballers, their domestic league cannot compete with the likes of the European counterparts in terms of stadium attendance. Hence, building stadiums with more than 60,000 seat capacity in most regions of the country has come under intense criticism from the local people. They showed their extreme frustration during the recent Confederations Cup, which witnessed protests on a large scale.
There was a stage when the Confederations Cup was in danger of being cancelled because of the protests.
Construction Still Going on
The World Cup is just a few weeks away, but Brazil is yet to complete some of the stadiums. The stadium in São Paulo will be hosting the opening match between Brazil and Croatia, but the gross inefficiency of the Brazilian government has been exposed to the maximum after revelations that the stadium is yet to be completed. FIFA president Sepp Blatter recently came out with public criticism of the local authorities by saying that they have been extremely lackadaisical in their preparations.
The delays have forced the local authorities to put in more workers than originally planned in order to complete the stadiums before the tournament. They failed to ensure safety in most aspects and this has resulted in the death of eight workers until now.
Further, the budget has almost tripled in some regards due to the intense activity in the closing stages.
The delays with regard to completing the stadiums has also worked against FIFA, who have been criticized with regard to their ticket sales. FIFA organizers have been unable to determine ticketing aspects in some of the stadiums that are yet to be completed. It is estimated that as much as 7% of the tickets are kept back due to these issues.
The competition will start on June 12 with a match involving the hosts Brazil.