Brazil is finding that time and money before the World Cup is running short. Many of the projects that the 2014 soccer tournament host planned to complete prior to the expected 3.7 million fans descend on the country this summer have run out of resources. Compile the incomplete projects with the ongoing unrest between police and drug gangs in the many favelas throughout the country, both FIFA and the tournament host are concerned.
Aldo Rebelo, Brazil’s sports minister, stated that there is a security concern for the upcoming soccer games. With the riots that fell on Rio de Janerio’s Copacabana Beach district a month ago and clashes between citizens and police that resulted in a shooting death near team hotels in the city, Rebelo admitted that while there are problems, war zones in Afghanistan and Iraq are much worse. In an attempt to increase the safety of the millions of soccer fans expected this summer, the Brazilian government has employed a security force including 150,000 police officers and 20,000 members of private security. After the unrest at Copacabana Beach, which will host a Fan Fest during the tournament, 2,000 extra members of the police force were deployed in Rio earlier than planned.
Unrest is only part of the problem. Many of the cities hosting games this summer are running out of money. One of the locations of games, Recife, earlier said they are out of money and will not be able to run their Fan Fest. The Fan Fest is a free party for soccer fans who were unable to obtain tickets to the games. FIFA has found these parties are very popular and successful and informed Brazil that all of the free festivals in each of the host cities will go on as planned.
Brazil is struggling with projects leading into the 2014 World Cup. A six-story addition to a stadium in the city of Curitiba stands unfinished. The addition currently sits as a metal skeleton and was planned to be used for the media descending on the city for the four games hosted at the stadium starting on June 16. With the project running out of time, Reginaldo Cordeiro, the city official in charge of Curitiba’s World Cup preparations, made the decision to move to FIFA’s plan B and house the media in tents in a parking lot near the unfinished structure.
The city of San Paulo had planned a new monorail to connect the airport with the city to ease congestion during the tournament. The monorail project fell behind and will not be finished until next year. The airport in San Paulo is also struggling to complete work. Instead of being able to operate 25 airlines as planned, the airport will only be able to handle eight airlines. The troubles for San Paulo have moved beyond the
airport to a parking lot at the city soccer stadium. More than 4,000 homeless families have moved into the stadium parking lot in protest over the high rents that have taken over the city and the exorbitant amount of money the government has spent on the World Cup. Organized by the Homeless Worker’s Movement, the new residents of the parking lot feel the money spent on the tournament would have done more good for the people of Brazil who are in need.
With all the struggles Brazil is seeing as they prepare for the 2014 World Cup, things just got worse for the host country. With time running out to complete everything away from the soccer field, word has come out that the host countries national team head coach is under criminal investigation. Luiz Felipe Scolari, Brazil’s head coach, is being investigated by Portuguese authorities for tax evasion. Scolari, who coached the Portugal National Team from 2003 to 2008, claims that he has always declared all of his income in every country he has worked. News of the investigation out of Portugal coming less than a month before the World Cup begins may seem a bit sketchy to soccer fans around the world. With all the negatives leading up for the host country, the only way the tournament may be considered a success would be if the Brazilian National Team comes out on top as the World Cup champion.
Commentary by Carl Auer