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Brazil in mood for World Cup hurry up

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Tim Vickery | 10:38 UK time, Monday, 19 September 2011

No doubt about the highlight of last week's friendly international 0-0 draw between Argentina and Brazil - the moment in the second half when Brazil striker Leandro Damiao produced his speciality 'lambreta' dribble.

Cutting in from the right he ran over the ball, and then flicked it with his right foot against his left, in such a way that it did not just loop over his bewildered marker, but also fell on an ideal trajectory for him to continue his run and meet it with a lobbed volley, probably an intended cross, that looped off the far post.

It is a remarkable skill - all the more so coming from a big centre forward more known for power than finesse who was playing park football just a few years ago and now plays for Internacional.

Damiao, 22, is enjoying a dream year. He is not yet the finished article - his back-to-goal game has plenty of room for improvement. But producing such a moment of skill in just his fourth Brazil appearance did wonders for his dream of leading Brazil's attack in the 2014 Fifa World Cup. His 'lambreta' dribble is the essence of South American football - in a tight spot, with few available options, a player improvises a solution.

Brazil striker Leandro Damiao

Striker Leandro Damiao has a bright future ahead of him in the national team. Photo: Getty

There are now fewer than 1,000 days to go until the show kicks off in 2014. The milestone was celebrated last week, with a flood of articles in the Brazilian media casting comment on the state of readiness. The chances are that getting the show on the road will require some other moments of improvisation, less welcome than the one supplied by Damiao.

Construction work is at an earlier than ideal stage in a couple of stadiums, but this is not seen as a major cause for concern. Airport capacity is a worry, but, as is the case with stadiums, money will be thrown at the problem in the next three years.

More alarming is the area of urban transport infra-structure. "The worry is very big," said Marcos Tulio de Melo, president of Confea, an organisation representing architects and engineers. "The mobility works are not as advanced as the stadiums. A lot of projects have not even been presented. We should have the works in progress, but we lack the maturity to plan."

The experience from South Africa in 2010 seems to show that strictly in the staging of a World Cup, the urban mobility aspect is not so important. For such a special event fans are keen to arrive at the stadium hours ahead of kick-off in order to be part of the atmosphere.

So, caught in a race against time to be ready for 2014, there is an obvious temptation to scale back or quietly forget some of the planned improvements in urban mobility. There is scope to improvise. "The World Cup will happen," says Marcos Tulio de Melo, "but in some places it will be necessary to have holidays or suspend lessons in schools."

But if transport improvements are not as important as stadiums in staging the World Cup, the reverse is clearly true in terms of the potential benefits to society. Brazil's cities grew rapidly over the last century, and urban transport failed to keep pace. They are full of people standing in overcrowded buses for two hours or more both to and from work every day.

Inside the 1,000-day mark, it seems clear that the 2014 World Cup will not do as much as it could to improve this state of affairs. This has been on the cards ever since the absurd delay in naming the host cities. Brazil was given the World Cup in October 2007 - but this merely confirmed a decision than had effectively been announced in March 2003.

Brazil, then, should have had most of its planning in place four years ago. But it had not even chosen its cities. The controversial Ricardo Teixeira is president both of the CBF, Brazil's FA, and of the Local Organising Committee, an unusual accumulation of power. But he did not want to take the risk of offending his power base by excluding cities from the party and so in another unusual step, the decision was passed to Fifa, and more time was wasted.

The Brazilian government must surely share some of the blame for this. Without their support the country would not have been awarded the World Cup, and the amount of public money being spent in the endeavour makes it too important to be left to the likes of Teixeira.

Former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has a wonderful poverty-to-power biography, and an assured place in the history of his country. But his role in the 2014 World Cup may not go down as his finest hour.

A football fanatic, before he took office Lula was critical of Teixeira. Once in power, wanting to play the role of global statesman, he soon saw the advantages of getting close to the CBF boss. The national team could be a powerful instrument of foreign policy. Brazil sent a peace keeping force to Haiti, and Teixeira agreed to take the team, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and all, to the Caribbean country for a friendly in 2004. During this period Lula's friendly relations with Teixeira meant that not enough pressure was placed on the CBF boss to speed up the planning for 2014.

Dilma Rousseff, Lula's hand-picked successor as president, is made of sterner stuff. It seems very clear that she has little time for Teixeira. In her mind the CBF boss may well represent the oligarchy, bloated and inept, that she has been fighting against for decades.

Had she been in power earlier it is tempting to believe that things would have been different - not only relations with Teixeira but also in terms of standing up to Fifa over the demands made on host countries.

That will remain one of history's countless 'what ifs?' Because with fewer than 1,000 days to go the priority is getting the show on the road - including the odd piece of improvisation which, hopefully, will work as well as the dribble unleashed last week by Leandro Damiao.

Comments on the piece in the space provided. Questions on South American football to, and I'll pick out a couple for next week. This, from last week's postbag:

Q) Do you believe that when Neymar moves to European football, which is inevitable, his place in the national team will be compromised as he continues to learn and adapt to a new lease of football outside of South America? Or is his talent too much to be overlooked by Mano Menezes?
Ryan Condon

A) Topical question, as there have been more rumours of an imminent announcement that he will join either Real Madrid or Barcelona next summer. He played it all down after Sunday's 3-1 win over Corinthians, but the destination (one of Spain's big two) and the timescale (after the Olympics) make sense. Neymar in Europe promises to be one of the most fascinating stories of the next few years. The adaptation will surely not be easy - how, for example, will he react to a very different criteria of refereeing? - but his talent is breathtaking. In terms of his national team place, he will hope to be such an established member of the first team that it will hardly matter if he has early troubles adapting to Europe.


  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    The demands made on host countries are certainly ridiculous. Brazil is in the unfortunate position of being asked to please both FIFA and the Olympics in the space of two years. I don't think these organisations operate in the real world.

  • Comment number 3.

    Great article Tim. That piece of skill was absolutely amazing, I wish we saw more like that in the premier league.

  • Comment number 4.

    Will international football be less relevant by 2014 here, I wonder…?

    Jonathan Wilson’s book, Anatomy of England, has an interesting comment (p71) – referring to the WC event 60 years ago that applies equally today. This applies today even more, perhaps, because of the vested interests that are giving the English national team no chance to develop…..

  • Comment number 5.

    A very nicely structured article Tim which confirms that you are not just a good sports commentator but also a very good writer.
    Nice also to see you calling things as they are in a country where political patronage has been dominating the scene for too many years.
    Can I request an article about this year's Brazilian championship, which is turning into one of the most fascinating tussles in many years. It has always been far less predictable than the major European leagues, but with the same sort of strengthening at the bottom that we are also seeing in the EPL, individual results and the eventual title holders are as difficult to predict as I can remember.

  • Comment number 6.

    kicboy wrote:

    Will international football be less relevant by 2014 here, I wonder…?


    Can't see why.

    If you want to see English players play at the highest level, you have to watch the WC and the Euros.

    The Champions League has very few actual English players. Man U, Chelsea and the rest are English in name only.

  • Comment number 7.

    Have we not been here before? Athens wasn't going to be ready for the Olympics, Portugal wasn't going to be ready for the European Championships, South Africa wasn't going to be ready for the World Cup. Did any of them actually fail to get ready in time? No. Brazil will be no different, not least of all because they have the industry and money from a booming economy to do so.

    Being a regular visitor to Brazil, I do agree that transport infrastructure has some way to go until it can even begin to think about being capable of transporting large groups of people around the country. However, you could say the same for London and that's just one city. Not everywhere in the world is as badly organised and wasteful with building projects as London is.

    A footballing mad population of 200 million Brazilians simply will not let the tournament begin without actually being ready to host it. It is unthinkable and only the media actually believe this could happen.

  • Comment number 8.

    I should also add that Brazil still has the best part of three years to get ready. London has less than a year to sort out it's transport system and given that upgrades have been going on here for a decade, no one should actually believe it will improve. London Underground cannot even get people to and from work on time each day, nothing suggests it will be able to deal with millions of extra users.

  • Comment number 9.

    Hi. Damiao - nice bit of skill - but what a dull game? Used to be Brasil was loaded with skill. Now we have to watch Barcelona, and the 2011 Manchester United team, to see great football. I nearly fell asleep in the Brasil / Argentina game. No wonder the Dutch and the Spanish were in the last World Cup finals. It's literally been years since we have seen Brasil play as fabulously as we know they can. What happened? I keep hoping (as does the rest of Brasil) that they are suddenly going to be fantastic. Been a loooooong time, with countless excuses. can't they just get a decent professional coach?

  • Comment number 10.

    No mention of the corruption here that is severely undermining the plans for the 2014 WC. Millions are being lost this way and the knock-on effect is being felt in small communities such as mine in SC where the beach front has been devastated by rain/high seas but no federal money is available because of the cost of the cup. Vickery should also travel a few miles out of Rio and see the devastation from the January mudslides in the Serrana region - 8 months on and still barely a thing has been done to help. Finally, look at Guarulhos airport which remains in a pitiful state despite the urgent need for improvement. Brazil shoudl never have been awarded this world cup and would not have been had a proper bidding system been in place.

  • Comment number 11.

    5 - many thanks - just won Brazilian award for foreign correspondent of the year, so thought I had to live up to it with something heavyweight!

    You are thoroughly justified in requesting a piece on this year's Brazilian Championship - it's the best I've seen for years - not just because there are so many teams in the fight, but also because I think the standard is higher - both as a result of more quality players but also as a consequence of more tactical flexibility. I'll certainly come back to this for some longer reflections soon - probably not next week because the last couple have been Brazil based.

  • Comment number 12.

    #2 Sorry I think you are talking nonsense. Why bid for both if you don´t want the responsibility. And the IOC´s decision was based on a solid commitment and plan put foward by Rio. The IOC opted to put its faith in Rio and rightly so!

    PulpGrape, sorry but again this idea that Brasil is football daft so it´s ok it will happen does not cut the mustard. If it was so football daft why can it not fill its stadiums for games! Sorry but there are more people interested in Soap Operas than football here! That is why they control when games begin and end. Just like Brasil is the place of Carnival, it equally has a population that escape the cities for peace and quiet during this time.

    Tim we have agreed on this before, FIFA is equally as responsible here as they did not ask for a bid form Brasil, with budget responsibilities (State and Federal), plans and timescales as they did previously 2006 and recently for 2018 & 2022. But you are spot on in relation to Teixeira´s role. In short it has been a shambles and continues to be so. The airport work was halted last week as it has started without the necessary plans or paperwork, and whilst I like so many here in Brasil, hate the bureaucracy, I hate more the lack of planning, or management, or responsibility that goes with this attitude. Its great to laugh about this way of doing things in Brasil, but many younger people want to see Brasil grow and achieve its potential.

    Marcos Tulio de Melo´s comments are especially relevent here. A lot of Brazil´s leaders in the design and building industry have been ignored in their desire to develop plans, get things moving and have been left out in the cold, with foreign designs being favoured.

  • Comment number 13.

    Easily the most interesting articles on the BBC just a shame they're not a little longer as its my only real source of information on South American football. On the subject of Leandro Damiao do you think his emergence for Brazil and performances for Inter will mean he too goes to a Spanish superweight, or do you think my club Spurs (who were constantly linked with him last summer) still have a chance, or is he the sort that wants to stay in Brazil?

  • Comment number 14.

    congrats tim and again another fantastic article.

    brazil have too much infrastructure to build and improve from stadia to transport to security. the president that has just retired has used sport for his own publicity and legacy "i brought the world cup and olympics to brazil". if brazil dont sort out the transport then incidents like jenson button being robbed in his car outside the inerlogas f1 track will happen during the world cup. i am sure that by 2015 the infrastructure would be sorted.

    tim just to correct you the whole thing for the world cup needs to be finished for 2013 thats 2yrs not 3yrs because the confederations cup is the practise tournament for the world cup bit like the test events here in england at the moment at the olympic events.

    would it beneficial for the "big" clubs in the national championship to put pressure on the cbf to restructure the regional and the national championship?

  • Comment number 15.

    PulpGrape - I agree with you that there is no chance that Brazil won't be ready to host the competition. However, I also think that some media hysteria about it keeps the organizers on their toes. Having observed and closely followed the organization of a couple of other major events in developing countries (the Commonwealth Games in India being the most glaring example), I can see some rather obvious trends here. In the initial phases there is a lack of urgency, and in many cases a deliberate go-slow. This whips up the hysteria close to the event itself - and the government gets involved. Then the event is portrayed as being on the brink of disaster - at which point large sums of money get thrown at it by the government to prevent national embarrassment. This money is treated as emergency funds, goes to contracts outside the regular bidding process and there is much less accountability (the prevailing mood being - "just get this done, whatever the cost"). This makes it easier for corrupt organizers, politicians and contractors to siphon off large sums of money. It's a game - and they know how to play it.

  • Comment number 16.

    6.At 13:55 19th Sep 2011, The Midland 20 wrote:
    kicboy wrote:

    The Champions League has very few actual English players. Man U, Chelsea and the rest are English in name only.


    As a Man U fan I have to take issue with that patently incorrect comment. This season United will use Ferdinand, Rooney, Carrick, Jones, Smalling, Owen, Young, Cleverley and Welbeck in the CL. Possibly also give a run-out to other youngsters like Amos and Morrison if we have qualified early for the knock-out stages.

    Nine frontline English players in our squad - and 'we're just English in name'? Are you unable to count or just lazy? Its not just this season - our starting XI which won the 2008 CL Final for example had six Englishmen (Scholes, Hargreaves, Brown, Rooney, Carrick, Ferdinand).

    Get you facts straight before commenting.

    Check your facts before making pointless comments.

  • Comment number 17.

    Hi Tim, to the point & thought provoking article as always, just a question, I spent about half an hour writing my views on a few points about the WC question & it just literally disapeared, usually if someone from the beeb thinks that a person has touched
    on some delicate or legal problem subjects the person is informed as :- "this post removed because of content" or something similar worded but my comments were just unceremoniously ditched, I don't if yourself or other persons do the reviewing
    but I thought that it was just good manners to inform that the post was not suitable for posting, never had any problems before so could someone inform me pls.
    FYI it should have been No 9. I previewed before posting & there was a message saying that my post was under consideration or similar when I hit "post Comment"

  • Comment number 18.

    First of all: Tim, congratulations on the award. I don't know any other blog where the contributors are so complimentary, so you undoubtedly deserve it.
    @ 17: I've had this problem many times before, where the material just doesn't upload and then disappears when you leave the page. It you think it's important enough, before clicking on Post Comment you could copy and paste to a Word file, so it's not lost, and perhaps try the Preview first. But the Beeb definitely owes us an explanation.
    @ 6 & 16: Likewise Spurs, who have King, Bale, Parker, Lennon, Dawson, Walker, Defoe, Rose, Kane, Livermore and Townsend, with Jenas and Bentley out on loan - they're all Brits (don't see it as important which part they come from) and all in the first team squad.

  • Comment number 19.

    Some news for people in the London area.
    Tom Watt is co-producing the UK's first-ever football film festival, Kicking & Screening, with the Everyman Cinemas in North London, Sept 23 to 29. The line up includes two films about South American football, Argentina Futbol Club (Boca/River Plate rivalry) and The Two Escobars, a magnificent documentary about the Andres Escobar assassination.
    With Tom involved, the event is sure to be carried off with passion and quality.

  • Comment number 20.

    @ 14: the clubs are beholden to the state federations, which are beholden to the CBF, and all the administrators have a vested interest in preserving the system. However, there is growing criticism of Teixeira that refuses to be stamped out - in itself an indication of how his power has diminished - se we might see change after the World Cup, if he hasn't managed to reconsolidate his power by then.
    @ 15: Spot on!
    @ 12: While I am reluctant to bring politics into this, but since it is already a major factor, it must be said that, while FHC's government was notable for using competence as the first criterion for senior posts, Lula's government was notorious for rewarding party affiliation above all other considerations. There are signs that Dilma may be different - let's hope so, as it's our best chance of being ready on time! Meanwhile, I agree that media attention is the best way to keep minds focused and shine enough light that corruption is kept within certain bounds.
    @ 10: the lack of any action up in the Serrano region behind Rio isn't for lack of funding. A lot of money was made available, but was diverted by corrupt local politicians, with hardly anything going where it is needed. One also has to bear in mind that the rainy season - which lasts from November through to April - has a significant impact on Brazilian construction efforts.

  • Comment number 21.

    Couldn't have scripted this one better - Brazil's Minister of Planning, Miriam Belchoir, said today that the urban mobility works are not essential for the World Cup, and that holidays can be granted all over the country on match days.

    She is also reported as saying that the host cities were only defined in 2009, and that therefore this has to be taken into account when evaluating the state of readiness - this blog argues that, although not directly responsible, the government must take some of the blame for the fact that the host cities took so long to be sorted out.

  • Comment number 22.

    Tim, thanks for another great article. Really informative and great tie-in between the dribble and the 2014 preparations.

    I'm inclined to agree withe the earlier posts that come 2014, everything would probably work out - like other previous tournaments. The real worry is that there may not be a positive legacy after the tournament ends. I also wonder if this will also have an adverse impact on Rio's 2016 preparations...

    I haven't seen the dribble yet, but the way you describe it sounds similar to what jay jay okocha used to do when he played. Anyone in doubt, just YouTube okocha to see what an amazing player he was.

    And before I forget - congrats on the award!

  • Comment number 23.

    re the Spurs list @ 18, how could I have left out Tom Huddlestone! Then there's young Carroll, as well as Naughton out on loan.

  • Comment number 24.

    Thanks for the article, Tim. I always read your blogs but rarely comment.However, on this one I feel I must chip in. Sao Paulo should never have been chosen as a host city.Yes, it sounds ridiculous that the country's largest and, arguably, most important city should be excluded from hosting the WC but anyone who lives or has spent any time there, as I have, will tell you that the its public transport system is a mess and not up to the job now, bursting at the seams and providing a miserable experience for the millions of daily users. How is public transport in SP going to be improved in the next 3 years for the people who use it everyday? The answer is, it isn't. SP accommodating hundreds of thousands of foreign visitors for a month is the stuff of fantasy. The traffic problems here are terrible, there aren't enough hotels( U2 gave 2,or maybe 3, can't remember, concerts here last year and there were people with nowhere to stay. The whole city is groaning and creaking of day after day. Leave it out of the WC. I'm sure it won't happen but I pity the poor foreign visitors who have to endure it.

  • Comment number 25.

    Congratulations on your award Tim, having listened to you on many occasions doing the World Football phone-in on R5, I now find myself in Brazil and have just read your excellent article. A month or so back there was an excellent analysis of the situation as it was in March and April with particularly, stadium construction for the WC in the Brazilian Journal "Veja". Looking at what is still to be done, I can't help feeling that the money cannot and will not be spent wisely during the time remaining and am in total agreement with post 15.

  • Comment number 26.

    For those living in Brazil, I'm doing Redacao SporTV, Tuesday 10 am Rio time

  • Comment number 27.

    #12 - Why am I talking nonsense? Countries bid for these events as a status symbol and of course they know what is expected of them when they bid. They put together glossy brochures and promise the committees and their own people the world but then the reality of actually delivering kicks in.

    I think FIFA need to realise the implications of awarding the World Cup to countries that will require extensive new infrastructure. It is not just the logistics of delivering on the minimum stadium requirements and the social planning that goes with that. But also they need to take in to consideration whether an economic downturn or a change in political direction will affect what that country can actually deliver.

    They also need to take in to consideration whether the billions they are expecting the host country to write off is in the best interests of that country. I am not disputing that South Africa delivered a great World Cup for the teams and the fans but considering the economic situation of many across Southern Africa I am not sure that FIFA's guarantee of the World Cup to Africa was really sensible. This is not just about developing nations though. For instance, imagine if the World Cup had been won by Australia. Do they really need 10 stadiums of that size in Australia? Did they need them in South Africa? Do they need them in Qatar?

    What I am saying is that The World Cup and The Olympics need to be delivered in a more sustainable manner. Things shouldn't just be bigger and better every time with arenas gathering dust after the event and billions of dollars lost.

  • Comment number 28.

    6. At 13:55 19th Sep 2011, The Midland 20 wrote:
    kicboy wrote:

    Will international football be less relevant by 2014 here, I wonder…?


    Can't see why.

    If you want to see English players play at the highest level, you have to watch the WC and the Euros.

    The Champions League has very few actual English players. Man U, Chelsea and the rest are English in name only.

    Nobody cares about watching English players.

    People do care somewhat about watching a team representing England in the world cup and they care about watching their teams in whatever competitions they play. Outside of that people just want to see good football and international football is in general the very poor cousin when it comes to good football.

    International football is already becoming almost an irrelevance to many people in Europe. Perhaps if it was special, perhaps if we saw less cotton candy friendlies and confetti caps handed out, perhaps if the international windows were more sensibly placed, perhaps then ti would matter as much as it used to.

  • Comment number 29.

    With regards to the WC 2014, What sort of times will matches be on in the UK?

  • Comment number 30.


    Brazils time difference in the UK summer is that they are four hours behind. I imagine therefore that some games will kick off 7pm UK time and the others at around 12am.

  • Comment number 31.

    Tim, it is always good to read a sports writer who has a decent understanding of the world outside sport, and is able to link the two together in a coherent fashion.

    Brazil is still a country that I think is little known or understood in the west, beyond a few cliches (Samba, rain forests, carnival, favelas). The next few years certainly promise to change that, and I look forward to your commentary on the build-up to the World Cup (and indeed the Olympics, if you are given licence to cover that too).

    I see little danger of Brazil failing to host both events and put on a good show, but the long-term cost the country is likely to be extreme. I hope that in the long term great footballing nations are not dissuaded from hosting the event, making it the preserve of countries such as Qatar.

  • Comment number 32.

    International football remains the peak of most player's career as it truly is a world stage. Of course Champions League may be at times (and only at times) higher standard but that doesn't mean it is more important. Can you remember who won the CL in 2004? 2003? 1997? But I bet you can remember who won the last few world cups and who the key players are.

    The problem in this country is that there are too many tiny minded folk who follow obsess about their dull little town's irrelevant matches against equally pathetic rivals rather than looking at the bigger global picture. Small town small minds as they say.

  • Comment number 33.

    Agreed Stevie, but I fear we're fighting a losing battle. As with so many things these days, money is king, and international football just doesn't have nor attract the money that club football, and especially the Champions League, does.

    Most bubbles pop eventually so I suppose European club football's financial bubble will at some point (it already has in some countries) - I just hope that international football survives long enough to see the day when it does happen.

  • Comment number 34.

    Interesting article. Typical issues of preparation for a major sporting event from an 'under-developed', bureaucratic and dare i say a little corrupt, sleeping giant of a country. I think just like SA2010, facilities will be ready, but just in time.
    Great skill from Damiao, why was he not used in the Copa America 2011?
    Boring game between Arg and Bra using home based players. Hope the next one in Belem will be exciting and goals galore.
    Quick question Tim, why is Kaka being ignored when Mano picks his full strength squad, will Mano last till 2014? Why don't they bring Zico or Leonardo to prepare for 2014? They are more experienced and shrewd and follow a better playing style. Mano seems to be out of his depth and there is no cohesion or proper plan about the way Brazil are playing. So disappointing to see this.

  • Comment number 35.

    The Champions League is only really important to the fans of the clubs involved. The World Cup is important to fans from all over the country. The problem with interrnational football is that in between the tournaments it is a mixture of mismatches in overlong qualifying groups and meaningless friendlies.

    Having lived in Brazil I have no doubt that whatever glitches there may be it will be a success in spite of Texeira and because of the Brazilian people.

    Congrats Tim on your much deserved award.

  • Comment number 36.

    Does anyone remember that WC '86 was held in the wake of a devastating earthquake that decimated Mexico City? This followed shambolic preparations and security issues in Colombia, the original host country.

    Yet, we got a great tournament illuminated by the rampaging Danes (Laudrup, Elkjaer etc.), rampant Spain, Maradona's luminescence, Lineker's opportunism, the best goal ever in the history of the world cup, and six of the most dramatic world cup games ever (Denmark v Uruguay, Denmark v Spain, Argentina v England, Spain v Russia, Brazil v France, Argentina v Germany.

    Likewise, in '82 there were fears about Spanish preparations. Yet, it remains one of the best ever with Brazil, France, Yugoslavia, Algeria, Northern Ireland, Poland, Germany and Italy providing skills and drama in equal measure. Even England played some good football ! Imagine that !!!

    Worry not about Brazil 2014. We will have a fantastic tournament. The Western mind may struggle to undersatnd the system of organised chaos prevalent in South America, Africa and some parts of Asia. However, things always work out, especially at the last minute. It is our way, and it adds colour to life. Too much planning and too many "controls" are a recipe for disaster. If in doubt, ask the heads of Lehman Brothers, Barings bank, UBS, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Tyco, Adelphia, Parmalat, Worldcom, and the thousands of dot.coms that have run into truble or failed altogether. When you plan too much, people assume that everything will run smoothly. They relax and boom ... disaster. When you don't plan too much everyone is on their toes because the world might cave in.

  • Comment number 37.

    @ 24: quite agree with you that SP can't cope and could do without the boost anyway, as it sucks in a disproportional amount of the country's wealth - other cities need it more. However, the WC2014 looks like it's being used to leverage a brand new stadium for Lula's favourite team - Corinthians.
    @ 27 and 31: nicely put
    @ 34: I think Mano is an excellent coach. However, coaching the Brazilian 2014 team was always going to be a poison chalice. On the one hand, there were public demands for Brazil to get back to the beautiful game of 1982 and 1950-70. But against that you have the expectation that Brazil make up for the 'failure' the one previous time they hosted the event. Those two requirements don't have to be conflicting if your players are in a different league to the rest. But that was the case in 1982, and look what happened! And standards have levelled since then (look at the recent Copa América, where all four winners in the quarter-finals were the underdogs). Mano is trying to balance the two demands, but he must have perceived by now that he is going to be criticised whatever he does (he has his predecessor Dunga as a prime example), unless by some miracle Brazil wins the competition. It's not that Brazil doesn't have the players to do it, it's just that there will be another half-dozen teams with similar chances and none of them under anything like the sort of pressure Brazil's squad will be under.

  • Comment number 38.

    Well done to Tim on winning his prize for journalism.

    Regarding his post #19 above, I highly recommend the documentary, "The Two Escobars." An enthralling look into Colombian football and society from the late 80s through the mid 90s.

  • Comment number 39.

    @30 games will most likely kick-off at 3 pm and 5pm local time which in Europe is 7pm and 9pm prime time and rougly correlates with US PST.

  • Comment number 40.

    Tim, nice blog, however many people would have noted this trick by Leandro Damiao has been done many times before, most noticeably by Ilhan Mansiz against Leandro Brazilian compatriot Roberto Carlos in the 2002 world cup...

    Clearly this 'outrageous skill' should also be mentioned by Mansiz.....

  • Comment number 41.

    I've been living in Brazil for about 6 months and one thing I will say is that even though the urban mobility project will more than likely not be realised, the pacification of favelas - every single drug favela - will be.

    The World Cup victory for Brazil seems to be an excuse to clean up Rio in a bid to keep appearances, making the country seem even more like an investible, profitable piece of real estate. If the country's image is cleaned up then a huge boost in tourism and foreign relations is guaranteed to follow.

    Airports and the general infrastructure is a huge problem, and anyone who has left the centre of Rio will know that the further you go away from Rio City, the worse the situation gets. And it's not only that. While there are plenty of buses - perhaps too many that it gets ridiculously confusing even the people who work with them don't know what's going on (central is a perfect example of this) - there are also plenty of taxi's, kombi's and van's ready to swindle you if you're not careful.

    Ironically you're probably safer in some favelas than getting into an unmarked van at midnight in the middle of Rio.

    While the World Cup will attract a lot of foreign interest, it seems to have given the country an excuse to sort out it's problem with favelas, drugs and restless police force. I hope that this won't take away from them investing the time in developing the country in a way that would make it compatible for hosting such an amazing event. Brazil is the home of football to many, but it seems this tournament could make them look like the away team if they're not careful.

  • Comment number 42.

    Hi Tim,

    Great blog as usual, I'm a huge fan. I have just been watching Redacao Sportv and I'm loving the program today.

    Just wanted to say that I although I am Brazilian, I completely agree with you that the state championships need to be abolished! As Rizek was saying, the argument that local rivalries would die down with the end of the state championships seems limited to me. Local rivalries are indeed what make Brazilian football what it is today and are the element responsible for instilling the high level of passion present in Brazilian supporters. Having said that, I think that this is a very simplistic way of supporting CBF and Ricardo Teixeira inherently. It is also purely nostalgic, and in my humble opinion Brazil needs to get rolling and on par with the elite of world football (Europe), as it has stood still in time with regards to its competitions, mentality and calendar structure. I believe this is a massively favourable moment for Brazil economically and it would be wrong not to capitalise on the potential of the domestic Brazilian League. I think this would be best exploited by the restructuring of the Brazilian calendar and consequently the rise in standard of competitions.

  • Comment number 43.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 44.

    A further point to make is there is a "build it quickly, build it cheaply" attitude here in Brazil, that is encapsulated in a heavily bureaucratic mindset.

    My girlfriend applied for a job and got it. Within the following hour we had to walk to a further two buildings just to sign bits of paper and take some tests. These buildings were more or less on the opposite side of downtown Rio. Following this, she was denied an immediate start - and consequently has not been offered the job - due to lacking one of 18 pieces of identification she needed. This was never mentioned at the start of the process.

    While here in Brazil the economy is booming, there still remains a very cautious approach when it comes to buying anything. Whether it's a service or a product, there is a lot of scepticism. Along with this lies a bigger, more alarming problem. The idea that something should be built quickly rather than properly is evident here. And one would be forgiven for thinking this may be the case when it comes to stadia for the big event. Put it this way, the main airport in Rio doesn't even have a McDonalds or many facilities for example. And is particularly small. Clearly, this wasn't a long term project.

    I just hope the World Cup is seen as an event which can benefit the long term of Brazil, rather than an excuse to sweep all the dirt under the carpet for a few years.

  • Comment number 45.

    And you can forget about Damaio or Neymar, it's Borges who people should be talking about. Tearing up the Serie A this season and is relatively unspoken of. And he's playing this well in a Santos team that has been playing within itself since the first game of the season.

    Neymar leaves for 53m and Borges stays? I always think the football should do the talking, not the player. Classic example. Neymar is done and dusted. He will suffer from a classic case of over confidence and arrogance and never live up to his potential. Getting a 15 year old pregnant? That sums him up. If you want to buy someone from Brazil, you want Borges. Simples as that.

  • Comment number 46.

    6. At 13:55 19th Sep 2011, The Midland 20 wrote:

    "The Champions League has very few actual English players. Man U, Chelsea and the rest are English in name only."

    blah blah blah

    United Euro squad last year, includes: Rio, Brown, Neville (just about), Scholes, Carrick, Rooney, Owen, plus Evans, Fletcher, Giggs, Gibson, O'Shea

    United Euro squad this year, includes: Rio, Jones, Smalling, Rooney, Cleverley, Carrick, Young, Welbeck, Owen, plus Evans, Fletcher, Gibson, Giggs

  • Comment number 47.

    Furthermore, I think the majority of teams involved in the state championship do not matter, thus rendering the competition useless both for the big clubs and the small teams as well. A solution to all of this would be an end to these leagues and a restructuring of the Brazilian National League, whilst simultaneously respecting the culture and dimensions of Brazilian football, within the appropriate limits.

    Firstly, I think that as you noted on Redacao any competition starting before a 'pontos corridos' league, takes away from the excitement of fans for the opening of the season.

    Secondly, I believe that the league and the national cup should end at the end of the season together, and if possible also the two south american competitions (played simultaneously). This would prevent teams' disinterest in the long league format once they have won competitions mid-season that guarantee them their place in the following year's Libertadores for example. I know Vasco are currently proving me wrong by topping the table, but this is an exception to the rule/norm.

    Thirdly, I think the lower divisions should maintain a more regional stance, feeding into more national tournaments progressively. This would minimise financial constraints for the smaller clubs and keep local rivalries existent. The one difference would be that with the end of the state championships, these regional leagues would be played in league format throughout the course of the season. This would make the clubs financially viable and it would enable them to professionalise their institutions properly having a structured schedule with a certainty of matches for a full calendar year, rather than play for 6 months against top clubs and never win and then spend the other 6 months playing insignificant competitions which provide no stability or certainty (number of matches varies, some teams do not play at all) and very little reward (a berth in the national cup only).

  • Comment number 48.

    6. At 13:55 19th Sep 2011, The Midland 20 wrote:

    "The Champions League has very few actual English players. Man U, Chelsea and the rest are English in name only."

    blah blah blah

    United Euro squad last year, includes: Rio, Brown, Neville (just about), Scholes, Carrick, Rooney, Owen, plus Evans, Fletcher, Giggs, Gibson, O'Shea

    United Euro squad this year, includes: Rio, Jones, Smalling, Rooney, Cleverley, Carrick, Young, Welbeck, Owen, plus Evans, Fletcher, Gibson, Giggs


    Right, so since when have Fletcher and Giggs been anything other than Scottish and Welsh? Ridiculous.

  • Comment number 49.

    @22 jay jay okocha doesn't count. he's african

  • Comment number 50.

    The way things are going now & if the present course isn't reversed, Brazil will be lucky to even get to the knockout stage in the 2014 World Cup.

    I know I'll get hit for even suggesting it, but if they really want to play Tiki-taka 1982 football , they might have to hire an Argentinean to do it, someone like ... Ricardo La Volpe.

  • Comment number 51.

    With the principles of my last two comments in mind, I envision something along the lines of the following, which would allow for a competitive national league structure from bottom to top, as well as a yearly calendar filled with competitive matches and the necessary time for adequate pre-season training. Moreover, all teams (including those in the Libertadores would be able to participate in the Copa do Brasil), thus elevating and adding more value to the competition; also the domestic calendar would stop on FIFA dates and teams wouldn't lose important players to the national team for any club matches.

    - Instead of state championships at the start of the season, use the end of the pre-season schedule to stage local rivalry 'cups' so that a team can start off the season with local bragging rights and that bit of Brazilian culture is preserved without occupying a huge chunk of the calendar. These cups would be state-based but comprising only the big teams.
    e.g. 'Quadrangular' in Rio and the same in Sao Paulo (3 games for each team); home and away matches between Cruzeiro x Atletico MG and the same between Gre-Nal, Atle-Tiba, Ba-Vi; triangular in Recife between the 3 big clubs there etc.

    - One week later, introduce a Supercup, between the previous season's League champions and Cup Champions. (1 match at Maracana)

    - One week later, opening weekend of the League Season:
    Serie A as it is now with minor tweaks; 20 clubs; 38 matches; 4 places in the following year's Libertadores; the 4 following spots for Copa Sul-Americana (rather than the current 8 spots - this would increase competition especially at the end of the season as teams wouldn't feel guaranteed a spot in this competition and just relax and 'throw' matches); 3 teams relegated instead of 4.

    Serie B as it is now with minor tweaks; 20 clubs; 38 matches; 3 clubs promoted - champion and runner-up automatically; 3rd through 6th play a play-off style mini- tournament (like the English Championship) to decide the last team promoted; 4 teams relegated to their respective regional groups in Serie C.

    Here is where the major changes would happen, the Serie C would be region-based, playing all-season round and would then filter into a national promotion tournament to Serie B at the end of the season.

    Serie C; in the moulds of the Spanish Segunda Division B - with 4 groups of 22 teams each; 42 matches; each group for a different region - for instance, Norte/Centro-Oeste, Nordeste, Sudeste, Sul;
    Promotion - the 4 champions of the groups play a home and away final against each other; the winners are promoted and the losers go into the second round of the play-off, which features the 2nd to 4th place teams squaring off in home and away elimination matches, the 6 winners are joined by the 2 'loser champions' and the 8 teams fight it out in an elimination tournament (home and away) the two finalists are promoted to Serie B.

    Relegation - the bottom 3 of each group are automatically relegated, the 4th last teams of each group play a simple home and away play-off against each other with the 2 losers relegated to Serie D.

    Serie D; the normal state championships are played as the bulk of the season in league format excluding the teams from the top 3 divisions. In the last quarter of the season, depending on the CBF ranking ot the state, each state provides a number of berths based on performance in the state championship, which filter into 4 regional promotion tournaments; these tournaments guarantee 3 promotion spots for each region, which filter into the respective Serie C groups. Depending on what region's teams are relegated in the Serie C relegation play-off the 2 4th placed teams corresponding also are promoted to Serie C.

    - Midweek in alternate weeks either continental competions (Libertadores and Sul-Americana) or the National Cup are played; with the occasional international fixtures.

    Copa do Brasil; 128 teams (all teams in Series A, B and C participate); simple home and away elimination matches all the way through. Winner is granted place in the following year's Libertadores.

    Sorry for the very lengthy outline, but was wondering what you thought of it and how viable it may be for future consideration? Of course it's not perfect and needs further specifications here and there but this is just off the top of my head.

    All the best Tim and congratulations on your foreign correspondent award! :)

    Hugo Fulco

  • Comment number 52.

    I think it's easy for people who live in Sao Paulo for example to say that the transport system inflicts misery on millions of people each day. I've visited Sao Paulo on four seperate occassions now and have never had any problems day or night. Living in London I would say exactly the same about the transport system here, it's a shambles, it causes misery to millions of people trying to get to and from work each day. The grass is always greener on the other side and it's easy to forget that the World Cup is a 4 week event, it's not like millions of people are coming over with a view to living there permanently.

  • Comment number 53.

    Firing Dunga was a mistake. Imagine Dunga's Pragmatic,hardworking,disciplined defense and midfield with the very exciting Neymar, Ganso,Robinho and Pato occupying the three spots upfront. It would have been something.

  • Comment number 54.

    Does make me laugh when people bang on about transport in London being so bad. Sure its not perfect but what city is when it comes to Transport? There is not another City of any similar size with such a comprehensive public transport system.

    If the London Olympics was three years out and as prepared as Brazil is for 2014 there would be pandemonium and a public enquiry by now but I will take everyone's word that it will all be OK in Brazil by 2014.

  • Comment number 55.


    You're right. There is not any other city with a transport system like London's. No transport system anywhere near as expensive. No transport system with anywhere near as many closures and/or delays. No transport system anywhere near as old.

    Makes me laugh when people talk about London's transport system as some kind of pinnacle of modern urban transport. Take a trip to Germany or Japan and see for yourself.

  • Comment number 56.

    Hoping all these problems will be ironed out as I hope to travel to Brazil in 2014. Germany 2006 was an experience like nothing Ive ever had, but getting on so Brazil will be the swansong. Ill view Russia and Qatar from afar!

  • Comment number 57.

    55 Makes me laugh when people talk about London's transport system as some kind of pinnacle of modern urban transport

    Who said that then?
    You're right. There is not any other city with a transport system like London's. No transport system anywhere near as expensive. No transport system with anywhere near as many closures and/or delays. No transport system anywhere near as old

    If you really believe that you can't have travelled much

    Can't stand all the negative wingeing and self deprecation that pervades this country at times.

  • Comment number 58.

    Are there any British players plying their trade anywhere in South America? I know of an old school mate playing in Guatemala but his old US College coach is now their manager and wondered if it had happened in South America?

  • Comment number 59.

    @ 57: neither can I. It should be obligatory for all young Brits to spend 2 years living and 'helping out' in a 'third world' country. Not only would they be doing something useful but they'd sure appreciate what they've got back home a lot more!
    My own take on the country vs club debate is as follows:
    It is the club that has to pay the player's transfer fee, wages and bonuses. The club is also dependent on the revenue that comes basically as a result of success on the field. All clubs have their die-hard supporters, but the sort of backing one needs nowadays to pay the sort of transfer fees and wages necessary for ongoing success can only be attracted and retained through victorious campaigns in the national league and international competitions. Injuries to key players can seriously derail those efforts. And if those injuries are picked up while serving one's country, one can understand how a certain resentment can build within the clubs, especially if the match was a largely 'meaningless friendly'. At best, such encounters swell the fixture list and leave players more tired than they would otherwise be.
    Against that, playing for one's country is still considered an honour for most players, and also gives clubs an opportunity to put players in the shop window and boost their market value prior to a sale.
    Given what I perceive as growing fanaticism among football fans at the club level, where a win is the only acceptable outcome and it doesn't matter how it was obtained, and the increasing financial pressures on club owners and staff to attain and sustain success, unless the conflicting interests are addressed I can only see international football dying a slow death. For me, that would represent a regression from nationalism to tribalism.
    Maybe the solution is to think bigger and go for regional or continental sides rather than national ones. With fewer teams there'd be fewer games, while the focus of interest would be a broader one, more in keeping with humanity's supposed evolution towards a global outlook.

  • Comment number 60.

    Tim vickery - changing the subject, but can you tell me what eventually happened in Argentina following the unexpected and unprecedented relegation of River Plate? I read that there were plans to expand the championship and so include 1st and 2nd division teams so that in effect River would also compete in the top flight (through the back door). Did this happen or is it likely to happen, as I am unsure when the Championship begins there.?

  • Comment number 61.

    Tim - an excellent article sparking an interesting debate covering numerous aspects of Brazilian society. I would like to firstly defend London´s transport network, which, in my life time, has changed beyond belief. We´ve seen improvements in the bus network, expansion and/or upgrades of most tube lines, expansion of the DLR, redeveloped and remodelled stations at Kings Cross/St Pancras, Farringdon, Blackfriars and London Bridge (in progress), HS1, the congestion charge scheme, the cycle hire scheme, i could go on. These projects have materialised due to a long-term commitment by the governing bodies. I´m currently living in Rio, and I, nor any local i talk with, believes that the state or federal governments have a long-term commitment to improving the lives of local people, whether it be through improvements in urban transport, education or healthcare. Rio´s primary metro line from downtown was only extended to Copacabana in 1998, and it took another 3 years just to extend the line by one further station to it´s current terminus in Ipanema. Anyone with just a basic understanding of the city could have forseen that the metro would eventually have to be extended to Barra, as is now happening. Better planning would have ensured that Barra was on the metro network years ago. Rio is a fascinating city with untold urban problems. The World Cup/Olympics could have been used as the catalyst to get things moving, but i fear this opportunity has already been missed due to hopelessly inefficient and bureaucratic governance.

  • Comment number 62.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 63.

    6. At 13:55 19th Sep 2011, The Midland 20 wrote:

    "The Champions League has very few actual English players. Man U, Chelsea and the rest are English in name only."

    blah blah blah

    United Euro squad last year, includes: Rio, Brown, Neville (just about), Scholes, Carrick, Rooney, Owen, plus Evans, Fletcher, Giggs, Gibson, O'Shea

    United Euro squad this year, includes: Rio, Jones, Smalling, Rooney, Cleverley, Carrick, Young, Welbeck, Owen, plus Evans, Fletcher, Gibson, Giggs
    Typical case of tunnel vision right there. Zoom out and tell me that on the scale of a total of ... players in the CL this is a fair share of active ENGLISH players.

    And by active, I mean actually playing.

    BTW Tim great blog once again and congrats. One on Uruguay next time? They are and have been the rising star of SA football for a couple of years now where Arg and Bra only managed not to live up to the usual hype.

  • Comment number 64.

    "The 2011/12 analysis reveals that Spain is the nation from which the most players originate (81), closely followed by France (78) and, interestingly from outside the EU, Brazil (69). This confirms the extraordinary role played by the Brazilian workforce in the world football economy (see the Global Player Migration Report at In total, footballers in the 2011/12 competition come from 68 different national associations from all continents."

    I'd reckon that English players would be around 29 in total - MU(10), CH(6), MC(9) AR(4) - admittedly that is subjective based on my understanding of who those clubs would have registered for the CL; didn't have time to research fully!

  • Comment number 65.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 66.

    I think Germany is going to surprise a lot of people at the next World Cup, my cousin works on the team and he says the young talent they have is impressive, but Brazil is still going to be a force.
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]



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