The 4th of March, in the middle of Brazilian carnival, so nobody cared, there were just 100 days left to the official opening of the World Cup 2014. The big question is, is Brazil ready for the World Cup and what is left to be done.
The countdown that began in 2007 is coming to an end. Seven years have passed since the moment Brazil was confirmed as host of the World Cup 2014, and now there are only 100 days before the tournament kicks off on June 12 in the Corinthians Arena in São Paulo.
Brazil has yet to finish the construction of four of the 12 stadiums for the World Cup. But it isn’t just the stadiums. Nor only the airports. Urban mobility is also among the concerns of the FIFA. In Pernambuco, for example, with 113 days left to the World Cup the football fans, to reach the Pernambuco Arena, still will face an ordeal. Everywhere the infrastructure as airports, roads and public transport are (far) behind schedule and even sometimes cancelled.
When we only look at the stadiums, Brazil can claim that 66.6% is ready for the World Cup. In the same period, with 100 days to go in 2006, Germany was 100% ready, while South Africa, in 2010, could be considered 80% ready to receive the tournament.
In the case of Brazil, the country has failed to meet the deadline of the FIFA to finish the 12 stadiums in December last year and now races against time to finish the last four – Manaus, Cuiaba, Curitiba and São Paulo.
The problems, however, go beyond the limits of the football fields. Interventions, reconstructions and modifications of various airports will not be ready until June. The Minister of Sports Aldo Rebelo said that he will even be satisfied with the completion of a “good part” of the works. The same applies to urban mobility (public transport), with only 6 of the 41 projects completed. A lot should be completed in the nick of time, but a significant portion will be postponed for later after the World Cup. The implementation of the infrastructure of the telecommunications also is a drama.
It might be clear that the “top-hats” at FIFA headquarters in Zürich are getting nervous. Last Saturday March 1, the secretary-general of the FIFA, Jérôme Valcke, stated that the delay in finishing the Brazilian stadiums for the World Cup this year is a big challenge for the FIFA.
– We are talking about conditions in which the cement is not even dry – Valcke told reporters.
– We still have to install the whole system of information technology for the press. Without this service and telecommunications up-to-date, you will conclude that we are the worst organizers and that this will be the worst event of all time.
He went on to explain:
– But to install the technology in a stadium we need at least 90 days and must work with all parties involved, our business partners, our media partners, hospitality … The ball starts rolling on 12 June up to the 13th of July, and I expect things will work out fine, but it is also true that whenever you receive something late, it becomes a great challenge to make it on time.
Two years ago (see my article: “World Cup 2014 – Brazil needs a kick in the ass. Right or wrong?”), Valcke delivered one of his most controversial statements, saying that Brazil needed “a kick in the ass”, causing the anger of the Comitê Organizador Local (COL = Local Organising Committee). Asked Saturday if the Brazilians now need a new “kick in the ass”, Valcke dodged the controversy, responding:
– Ask me when the World Cup has finished.
Attempting to avoid further controversy, he continued with:
– Undoubtedly, the stadiums are beautiful, but it still is a challenge for the organisers ((to finish them). And I’m not criticising. It’s just a challenge. We have to find solutions.
Although it’s still not yet clear how the football fans can get to the stadiums, there also are positive factors. The Brazilian football team is ready for its hexa-championship, stadiums which are already in operation are modern and comfortable, the demand for tickets is the greatest in World Cup history and some mobility interventions, particularly those related to public transport, will effectively lead to the benefit of the population. But, in the final stages of preparation, there is still much work to be done, before Brazil, in fact, can realise the promised “Cup of Cups”.