Brazil venues struggle to meet World Cup deadline

 

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After a spate of building problems and public protests in Brazil, the governing body of world football, Fifa, repeatedly warned there would be "no compromise" over the delivery of World Cup stadiums.

But with Fifa's end-of-year deadline looming, several stadiums are well behind schedule and one host city, Cuiaba, has told the BBC that not only will be it unable to finish its stadium on time, but there are not even enough hotel rooms for visiting fans.

Even though Fifa only insisted on a minimum of eight stadiums to host the World Cup, Brazil decided to go with 12, such was the interest and demand from all parts of this huge nation to be a part of the tournament.

But, in hindsight, has Brazil bitten off more than it can chew?

Up in the northern city of Manaus, they are finishing an arena that bears some resemblance to the famous Bird's Nest Stadium in Beijing: an elaborate steel structure, imported from Portugal, envelops the playing area like an indigenous woven basket.

Start Quote

Miguel Capobianco

The opportunity that the World Cup brings us is the motivation, more momentum to make more investments”

End Quote Miguel Capobianco Manaus stadium co-ordinator

But the project, which is being built with $300m (£186m) of public money, is way behind schedule.

Fifa's strict end-of-year deadline for all stadiums to be ready is almost upon us, and in Manaus they are up against the clock - struggling with the hot, tropical weather and a complex design.

Even though the local team, Nacional, rarely attracts more than 3,000 fans, officials say the expense is justified and the stadium will have a purpose after the World Cup.

As the intense tropical rain kept many of his men from their tasks, Miguel Capobianco said teams were working 24 hours a day.

Even though many of the roof supports have yet to be replaced and half the seats have been installed, the stadium co-ordinator was confident it would eventually be seen as a worthwhile venture.

"The opportunity that the World Cup brings us is the motivation, more momentum to make more investments," Mr Capobianco said as we sheltered from the rain under a portion of the transparent new roof that was already finished.

"The World Cup will really help to accelerate the economic development of the city and the region," he added.

No seats, no roof

If they seemed confident of just about making it in Manaus, more than 1,000 miles to the south in Cuiaba, the situation is much more critical.

Manaus stadium The Manaus stadium bears some resemblance to Beijing's Bird's Nest

I walked up the steps from beneath the new Arena Pantanal, trying to envisage what it would be like for England's captain, Steven Gerrard, to lead his team out on to the pitch.

No-one, of course, yet knows how the group draw, which takes place on 6 December, will pan out, but the stadium in Cuiaba is nowhere near ready enough to play host to Steven Gerrard or indeed any international captain.

Still a huge building site, this is another arena built with public money in a remote part of Brazil.

But with no pitch, no seats and no roof, this gamble to use the World Cup as a beacon for development may have backfired.

Local officials have now admitted to the BBC that they will not make the deadline.

"We should be finished between the 15th and 20th of January," says Mauricio Guimaraes, the local official in charge of the stadium. He then, almost casually adds: "There won't be enough hotel rooms for the fans, but the city will manage."

From what I saw in Cuiaba, there is going to be a struggle to get the stadium ready before February or March at the earliest.

With regulation test events, as demanded by Fifa, still to take place, it is going to be touch and go in Cuiaba.

Inside the incomplete stadium in Cuiaba

'No World Cup'

"Nao vai ter Copa - there won't be a World Cup" has been the cry from the streets of several Brazilian cities all year, amid increasing anger at so much public money being spent on new stadiums - one of the main reasons behind continuing nationwide protests.

Back in Cuiaba, I met a group of young activists who predicted that there would be even more demonstrations during the World Cup itself.

Start Quote

Mariana Freitas

They could have done better things with the money, like investing in health and education which are bigger problems here now”

End Quote Mariana Freitas Cuiaba protester

"There'll be thousands of people in the streets protesting," says Bruno Boaventura, a young lawyer who has been an active part of the protest movement in this small, provincial town.

"We're not against the World Cup itself, but how the process of the World Cup has been made here. The public haven't been involved in any of the decisions."

Mariana Freitas agrees, as we sit in the tatty old colonial-era square in the middle of Cuiaba.

"I think people are angry because of this huge investment [in the stadium] that won't really be useful after the World Cup," she says.

"They could have done better things with the money, like investing in health and education which are bigger problems here now."

Most Brazilians, like the boys I watched in Manaus hoping to impress the local scouts on a bare, dusty pitch, still love their football.

Many in Brazil's far-flung regions say the country needs the investment and the new venues.

But with such stark realities about the readiness of some stadiums, Fifa is caught in an almost impossible situation.

 
Wyre Davies Article written by Wyre Davies Wyre Davies Rio de Janeiro correspondent

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  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 191.

    @187: Brazil is not anti-football; please see my post @127
    @184: do you have any clue whatsoever about the country and way of life you are rubbishing??? If you're not speaking from personal knowledge then why are you speaking at all?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 190.

    What's just happened at Itaquerão isn't going to help the image...

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 189.

    Still... I hope it doesnt go Flamengo way. They owe money to government and everybody else, despite not paying their player/managers/suppliers, etc., while CAP is showing the way forward in how to structure sustainable football. And CAP deserves more currently, as the performance in the League suggests.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 188.

    @143 - Cheers mate, I hope CAP wins too but they are too dumb! Like Dr. Socrates said, "Those who think do not run, those who run do not think". CAP have energy in abundance but not intelligence, the only one who does is Paulo Baier, who when he needs to run cannot because he is old! They have the talent to win, I do not think they have the brains to go along with it.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 187.

    185: Fair point but you have to admit it's strange hearing anti-football noises coming out of Brazil of all places!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 186.

    "Nao vai ter Copa - there won't be a World Cup!", There it is: one concise statement.
    Multibillion dollar profit driven infrastructural investments pertaining to World Cup in 2014 & Olympic Games in 2016, wrought by corporate corruption, have contributed to a horrid increase in Brazil’s external debt, which in turn has reinforced the control of economic policy by its Wall Street creditors.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 185.

    To be fair Cast your mind back Four years the same things were being said about South Africa,and how they hadn't completed the stadiums when it came to the tournament they were ready and all looked amazing.

    Sounds more like English Media moaning because you didn't get the World Cup.

  • Comment number 184.

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

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 183.

    I would say you shouldn't be able to host such a tournament if your own people are in poverty, homeless, don't have access to basic food or medical care, education...

    Oh wait we still have this in Britain

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 182.

    180: If we have to switch off sport then what are we meant to switch on to? Reality TV?

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 181.

    As a football fan I am very Dissapointed with Brazil, I can't believe they're messing up something as big as the World Cup. this is not Qatar, this is one of the traditional homes of World football. No I wouldn't have been able to get to Brazil, I don't know if I'll ever be able to get to a World Cup but all football fans are part of the World Cup in spirit and I feel let down!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 180.

    The World Cup has become a rich man's game. Who goes? Who can afford to attend? The top 1% elites?
    As 179.jonathanbw say, in his comment:
    "Sport has been stolen from the people; we should just switch off."
    Often times, I think it's just for the advertisers & a method to raise to wealth of the IMF and the debt of developing nations.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 179.

    #178 Exactly right.

    All big sporting events are now driven by the greed and vanity of the organisers (IOC, FIFA), sponsors, media and the host country's governments; it's always justified on the grounds of 'regeneration' and 'legacy'.

    And the quality of competition suffers because of the size of the event.

    Sport has been stolen from the people; we should just switch off.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 178.

    Claims by politicians and administrators that the Olympics / World Cup / HS2 will bring prosperity to a region are almost always spurious and are made in order to justify gigantic and outrageous vanity projects.
    After the World Cup is over, just how will the people of Cuiaba and Brazil benefit from having new large football stadiums ?
    I wish the stadium builders good luck - they may well need it.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 177.

    Isn't the World Cup supposed to be prelude to the Olympics? All those nice new facilities for participation, etc. My wife will disagree but I am so glad the venue didn't go to Chicago, Although I was in Toronto when the World Cup was there and it was pretty cool. They did it well. Thoughts.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 176.

    couldn't resist, since my rant was posted!
    @174: ok, but try comparing Brazil with the rest of Latin America, compare it with Africa, the Middle East, most of Asia, Eastern Europe. It certainly doesn't come off too badly against those. I think expectations have a lot to do with happiness too. Most people in the world would love to enjoy what the UK offers, yet Brits never stop complaining!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 175.

    well that's the Beeb...you try and have a conversation, have to keep stopping for 10 minutes every 400 digits, and then get "we're having difficulty. trying fix it" I give up!

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 174.

    See that's exactly what I mean - "Oh Brazil may be bad but so is London". So what? Why always the comparisons? That's what I mean by the complexo, justifying the way Brazil is by comparing it selectively to other countries. Yes London may have had delays, poverty; they also have good public hospitals, schools and transport infrastructure, unlike Brazil!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 173.

    You sound in desperate need of cheering up cmg!
    When one is down it's usually a good idea to switch from looking at what's wrong to looking at what's right (I used to say this to my students who were dismayed at the amount of red ink on their essays - yes, but look how much you got right!). But it sounds like you don't see anything positive right now, and it's understandable, when ...

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 172.

    I lived four years in London. Lived in Germany. Lived in Sweden. Lived in the US. Travelled t/out Germany, Italy, France, Belgium and Portugal. travelled in the US. And t/out Brazil and Argentina. I've been to Venezuela.
    I don't think I need to travel more than that, but I will.
    I lived in Harlesden, I have been to Brixton, and other areas, but so what?
    Youre still running from the question.

 

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