BBC BLOGS - Tim Vickery
« Previous | Main | Next »

World Cup 2014 - a scheduling headache

Post categories:

Tim Vickery | 19:26 UK time, Sunday, 23 October 2011

"It's been a big task and long work," said Fifa secretary-general Jerome Valcke last week when the calendar of the 2014 World Cup was presented. "We had 57 versions of this match schedule and finally nine on which we have been working. We took into account the medical aspects, logistics, travel and accommodation."

Staging a World Cup in a country the size of a continent is not easy, and Brazil in June/July offers a specific challenge - winter bites hard in the south and barely touches the north.

One of the big headaches in drawing up the match schedule must have been the question of how to deal with the southern host cities of Porto Alegre and Curitiba, where temperatures can drop to freezing.

It had been assumed that for practical purposes this World Cup would have to revert to the previous format, where teams would play all their group games in a certain region. This would have the advantage of reducing travel time in such a vast country - especially interesting since airport capacity has always been seen as the Achilles heel of Brazil 2014.

The World Cup 2014 takes in host cities speard far apart.

The 2014 World Cup in Brazil is spread all round the huge South American country. Photo: Getty images

But this regionalisation created a problem. Those teams based in the south would have been at a clear disadvantage. After spending weeks in the cold for their group games, a move further north in the knock-out stages could subject them to a temperature difference of 30 degrees.

This was clearly unfair - and possibly dangerous. So the idea of regionalisation was dropped, and instead all the teams will be travelling round the country - only some will be travelling a lot more than others. There are huge discrepancies in teams' itineraries.

The hosts' group is a good example. Brazil will have to clock up the air miles - indeed, one of the arguments against regionalisation was clearly the perceived need to have the national team in action in different parts of the country. So they open the tournament in Sao Paulo in the south-east, move up to Fortaleza in the north east for the second game and conclude their group programme in the middle of the country in Brasilia - a combined distance of 3,920km (2,435.8 miles) between the three cities.

Brazil's second opponents have things much easier - they stay in the north east, with games in Natal and Recife as well as Fortaleza, a combined distance of 1,160km (720.8 miles). But the other two teams in the group have to fly up to Manaus in the Amazon. Brazil's opening day opponents are especially penalized - Sao Paulo to Manaus to Recife is a combined distance of 6,000km (3,728.2 miles).

The team drawn as G1 has three group matches in cities of the north east. H1 has done even better, with fixtures in Belo Horizonte, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and a combined distance of just 700km (435 miles). While poor old E4 has two games in the cold south, and then from Curitiba faces the marathon flight north to Manaus.

They have clearly drawn the short straw. There are other long journeys but no others quite as absurd as this. It is here that the temperature differences will really bite - a problem minimized elsewhere in the schedule by downplaying the role of the south. Curitiba has the minimum host city ration of four games, all in the group phase, while Porto Alegre only has one more.

This looks like an anomaly. Porto Alegre can claim to be Brazil's third footballing city, behind Rio and Sao Paulo. At worst it is fourth, behind Belo Horizonte. And yet six cities will receive more World Cup games, including the likes of Brasilia and Fortlazea whose contribution to the Brazilian game is clearly inferior.

In Brazil this is widely being interpreted as the latest act in the cold war between Brazil's president Dilma Rousseff and controversial local football boss Ricardo Teixeira. Porto Alegre is Rousseff's political base. Cutting down its 2014 role, it is said, is Teixeira's act of revenge.

Maybe - and it is certainly worth speculating how much better the tournament planning and organisation might have been had Rousseff come to power earlier. But in this case it seems more likely that Fifa have cut back the participation of the south in order to reduce the number of games in cold temperatures - not just for the players, but also for the tourists.

Considerable thought seems to have been given to the tourist experience. There is no footballing justification whatsoever for building stadiums in Manaus and Cuiaba. But staging World Cup games there will take people close to two of Brazil's major natural attractions, respectively the Amazon rain forest and the Pantanal wetlands. Visiting those might seem a more attractive tourist package than putting on an extra two layers of clothing to cope with the cold of Porto Alegre or Curitiba .

Whatever the reasons, it is hard to look at the match schedule and not come to the conclusion that the 2014 World Cup is overblown, and that Fifa original idea of eight to 10 host cities might have been better. As it stands, with the discrepancies in distances to be travelled, the draw in December 2013 will take on extra importance. Everyone will want to be H1 or G1. No one will want to be E4.

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

Q) I wonder if you could give me an update on the progress, or lack of it, of two so called South American wonderkids? The first is ex-Bucaramanga star Sherman Cardenas, who was supposed to be one of the great hopes of Colombian football. As far as I can tell if he was such a talent he would be a big name by now, so what happened? Was it merely a case of him being overhyped?
The second is the Chilean Nicolas Millan. I understand he is still fairly young but has he also failed to make the impact that was hoped for? Or do you think he could still be a big talent in the years to come?
Max Lintzgy

A) That 'wonderkid' tag can be so unfair - even if the talent is there then it's a lot of pressure to heap on very young shoulders. Cardenas, a little attacking midfielder at his best down the flanks, is having a good year after a few disappointing ones. Early on he was a bit part player in Junior of Barranquilla's Libertadores campaign. Recently he's been getting more of a regular game and doing well. And at 22 time is still on his side, something that applies all the more to Millan, who is only 19. He made his debut at 14, and calling him the next Cristiano Ronaldo at that time was surely unwise. He's currently on loan from Colo Colo to Naval in Chile's second division.

Q) I read that Liverpool are close to a deal with Nacional to have first option on all their young players.
Who's really benefiting here? I don't understand why Nacional would give up their young players (for lower transfer fees than if they had matured and established themselves more) and doesn't this also mean young players leaving too early in their careers?
Drew Dadds

A) Uruguayan clubs - even giants like National - don't have much choice. They're restricted by the size of the internal market (Uruguay's population is not much more than three million) which means they have to sell.
The problem is from a Liverpool point of view that very few of their products will be able to step straight into the Premier League. The trajectory of Luis Suarez - first to Ajax for a few years before the move to England - was excellent. If this deal is to work well then it will need Liverpool to be patient, and loan out the kids to clubs elsewhere in Europe before bringing them over.


  • Comment number 1.

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

  • Comment number 2.


  • Comment number 3.

    Er,just dont play any games in the south? Why do FIFA have to make problems? Having said that even the longest flight here is no more than what 2 and half hours? Its not like you are asking players to fly over night or anything like that and further distances were travelled in the USA when the finals were there. All in all,they could have chosen the host cities better but the problems are hardly insurmountable.

  • Comment number 4.

    I don't see why, in this modern era, that so-called "underdeveloped" nations that win the right to host major tournaments couldn't get help from other "highly developed" countries with stadium allocation.

    I'm talking about major European countries giving old or disused stadia to other non-European countries so that tournaments like these could have "pop up" stadia within a smaller region to aid with travel issues like this.

    Global transference of stadia would be a logistic problem, but the world could unite in what it does best and that's industrialisation.

  • Comment number 5.

    #1 Shut up. Brazil is huge and so is their contribution to football. This European outlook of huge stadiums in a small, densely populated areas just isnt the norm abroad. Its tough to be honest Wait until 2018, Russia is even bigger, and thats just the European part of it!

  • Comment number 6.

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

  • Comment number 7.

    Tim, why the moan about travel distances and the climate in Brazil? It seems to me that we have become so accustomed to comfortable living that the slightest inconvenience is blown out of proportion. There used to be a time when teams traveled by ship for weeks to play in the world cup - (1930–54). There was also a time when teams faced temperature variations or had no idea what climate they would face on game day (58, 62, 66). Yet, they played reasonably entertaining football.

    Brazil is in no way the largest country to host the world cup or the one with the greatest temperature and time zone variation. The USA in 1994 was considerably bad in this regard but players and fans coped well and we had a good world cup except the final game. Flying from Brazil’s mild base in California, to the claustrophobic humidity of New York for Germany v Bulgaria, and on to the sweltering 110 degree Dallas heat for Brazil v Holland, and back again to Pasadena, CA, for the final, through three time zones, jet lag, and covering over 6,500 km was not fun, but the games were great! And that is what counts – the games. The global seems to be going back to an attacking ethos in the wake of Spain and Germany. Hopefully this will carry on to 2014 with teams already placing an emphasis on youth and verve. 2014 will be the greatest WC since 1970.

    It is good that fans will have a chance to explore Brazil and not restrict themselves to the east coast beaches. For the teams, the distances are not that great 2-3 hours flying at most. The disruption caused by constant travel may have negative connotations, but it is great for team spirit and better than sulking in your hotel if you or your team played badly the previous game. Try to witness a rowdy, singing and jokey plane/bus load of Koreans, Nigerians, Mexicans, Americans, Brazilians, Cameroonians, Spaniards or Uruguayans to see the effect of togetherness on team spirit.

  • Comment number 8.

    Waloudi is clearly trolling - no one in their right mind can claim Brazil is a bad choice to host the WC.

    The organisation does seem to be poor though. Regional group games would clearly be better for the teams and the fans. I'm not sure the temperature is such a problem. Teams can move to their 2nd round, QF etc cities immediately after the last game so can acclimatise. In SA I recall the evening kickoffs in the south were much colder than the afternoon kickoffs further inland.

  • Comment number 9.

    The biggest footballing tournament in the world in the biggest footballing nation in the world. Even if the organisation is poor and the leader (Teixeira) pretty useless, you know it's still going to be amazing. I fully plan on being there and travelling the length and breadth of the country to enjoy the whole thing as much as possible. It's going to be great wherever fans and teams go, so why don't we reserve our pessimism for the prospects of the England team instead?

  • Comment number 10.

    No. 1 for your education, Brazil is not a poor country. It is in the top 5 fastest growing countries in the world. The idea of a "WORLD cup" (and other international sporting events) is to promote camaraderie and friendly rivalry. Through this process we all get to learn a little more about each other, make new friends and learn to respect regional/national idiosyncrasies.

    The fact that I drink camel's milk from an unwashed calabash by choice, is no better or worse than eating rotten milk (a.k.a. “cheese”, Europe), grilled frogs (France), maggots cheese (Italy), moose nose (USA), hasma frogs fallopian tubes (China), haggis (Scotland) and goat's testicles (Middle East). Are these countries poor? Think first before you write / talk.

  • Comment number 11.

    No. 9 - Thank you!!! Engerluuuuund (England) can be relied on to provide some mirth with pre-WC hype and post WC misery.

  • Comment number 12.

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

  • Comment number 13.

    I don't see why, in this modern era, that so-called "underdeveloped" nations that win the right to host major tournaments couldn't get help from other "highly developed" countries with stadium allocation.

    I'm talking about major European countries giving old or disused stadia to other non-European countries so that tournaments like these could have "pop up" stadia within a smaller region to aid with travel issues like this.

    Global transference of stadia would be a logistic problem, but the world could unite in what it does best and that's industrialisation.


    I think it might be a tad expensive to do that.

  • Comment number 14.

    I really don't think people appreciate the massive effect climate will have on the 2014 WC. There have been humidity and climate issues in the past of course (USA 94 springs to mind), but the variability in Brazil will be much worse than in any previous World Cup (don't forget Brazil 1950 was a much smaller and more localised tournament). The travelling part is less of an issue; a few hours on a plane is no big deal and Brazil doesn't cross too many time zones; but I don't envy anyone (particularly the northern European teams like England) playing in places like Manaus in June, especially if they've just come up from the south.

  • Comment number 15.

    Brazil deserves a fair chance to host the WC just as much as any other 1st World countries out there.
    Many people out there (includin yourself probably) said that SA wont host a successful 2010 WC, but they were proved wrong with a lot of egg on their faces... and SA is as 3rd World as they come...

  • Comment number 16.

    I stayed a week in Parana around June time. Brazilians told me to wrap up warm, I found it very wet and about 15c although went below 10 at night. English Summer.

    In fact it was a blessing I'd just arrived from the N.East's winter very very humid and 25c!!

    I think you'll find these really low temps are in isolated spots up in the mountains where it can get below zero.

    The thing that shocks me about Brazil so much for such a huge country how little it changes. The soil is the same type throughout and I thought I meet see a huge diff in travelling from Equatorial NE to the temperate south - I didn't "mata atlantica" forest impressive as it is; I was very surprised at the small difference.

    The problem is going to be playing in Manaus ok might only be 25c but teh humidity.
    Will Recife cope with the annual downpours - it doesn't now..

  • Comment number 17.

    I am totally in favour that the WC in Brazil should be used to boost the tourism industry - after all that is an area where the country has a lot of untapped potential, so there is a clear chance to provide a long term return on a gigantic investment that should not only be targeted at a 30-day event. Having said that, there seems to be more clever ways of doing that than building/renovating white elephants in cities such as Manaus and Cuiaba, where professional football is practically non existent. With a maximum of 8 venues, foreign supporters based in central or southern bases would surely be tempted to buy specially designed/advertised 3 or 4-day packages to the Amazon or the Pantanal, to fill the gap in-between games of their national teams. With the schedule that has finally been released, supporters will instead be forced to spend their money fly across the country, many times not to the places of their choosing, suffer in unprepared airports, and eventually return to their home countries with a negative rather than positive impression - that is, exactly the contrary of what we would have liked to happen.

  • Comment number 18.

    As to the effects of the travelling on the players themselves, the shifts in climate can surely be a problem, but not really the long distances - in my experience the most inconvenient part of air travel are transfers into and out of airports, and that is unavoidable whether the flight is 45 or 120 minutes. In that sense I can't see much of an advantage gap if, say, one team has raked up, over the course of 10 days, 15 hours in air travel and its adversary only 8.

  • Comment number 19.

    A lot is being made of this schedule. The biggest concerns arent the distances involved but the doubts over brazilian airlines and infrastructure to cope... Heavy rains in the North East caused chaos this June... in Recife the main road to the airport was badly affected! I think the South and Southern based journalists and footballing powers are a tad peeved off about how many games the rest of the country has received??

    For me, living in Recife, Iḿ quite pleased that we have got 5 games though it puzzles me how a city like Recife (a hot bed of football) doesn get a quarter or semin final!!

    As for the statement:

    don't see why, in this modern era, that so-called "underdeveloped" nations that win the right to host major tournaments couldn't get help from other "highly developed" countries with stadium allocation.

    this is just laughable - come to brazil in 20104 and you will see how developed it is!

  • Comment number 20.


    "The disruption caused by constant travel may have negative connotations, but it is great for team spirit and better than sulking in your hotel if you or your team played badly the previous game. Try to witness a rowdy, singing and jokey plane/bus load of Koreans, Nigerians, Mexicans, Americans, Brazilians, Cameroonians, Spaniards or Uruguayans to see the effect of togetherness on team spirit."

    very optimistic... in times of ipads and psps, a much more believable scene is that of travelling teams as groups of spoiled, indifferent sulking young men, waltzing totally oblivious to what goes on around them except whatever crap music is blasting from their oversized headphones.

  • Comment number 21.

    One thing that puzzles me somewhat is that in this day and age we are constantly being spoon fed green issues etc. To me without regionalisation there is simply too much travel involved in a country with a delicate ecosystem in some places. For sure, no doubt some fans would want to visit the rainforest but the vast distances being forced on participating countries and fans alike is not ecologically sensible in my opinion.

    As for the temperature differences, well tough South Afica had similar issues regarding altitude, USA had humidity variances and I wouldn't be surprised if Russia 2018 will have similar tempurature differences; these guys are professionals, most are very very well paid it shouldn't be a problem for them.

  • Comment number 22.

    This is just another example of the commercialisation of football! Why would FIFA want to restrict to 8 venues when they will increase revenue, merchandise etc. by increasing the reach of the World Cup through the increased number of host cities. The effect on the players or fans following their nation around isn't considered, its the 185 million people of Brazil that are considered.

    It will no doubt be the same in Russia and Qa..... oh wait that place isn't big enough for 12 venues but it has a high proportion of millionaires all congregated within its borders.

    I can't complain though, this is the way football is nowadays. The international competitions are merely just catching up with the domestic leagues and cups.

  • Comment number 23.

    Did Luis Suarez not play for Groningen before joining Ajax?

    All Liverpool need to do is buy 10 cheap players from Nacional in a relatively short space of time and only one needs to turn into a world class player for the deal to be deemed successful.

  • Comment number 24.

    I have more sympathy for the plight of any fans who are thinking of coming to Brazil than for the teams who will at least have things organized for them.

    Air travel is the only realistic option in many cases as the distances are enormous and the state of the roads makes car and bus travel uncomfortable and unsafe.

    If you are thinking of following your team, I recommend you to plan your trip through a travel agency or supporters´ club. Also learn a few basic phrases in Portuguese as English not widely spoken.

    This does not mean you can´t be adventurous and make your way around - there are good bus networks in some areas. However, despite its innumerable charms, Brazil requires a lot of patience.

    As Tom Jobim said "O Brasil não é para principiantes", i.e. Brazil is not for beginners.

  • Comment number 25.


    Not playing in the South is a bit like having a WC in England and not playing in the West Midlands, or in Spain missing out on Andalusia. They should have gone with Gremio's stadium. Btw, flight times can be quite long. I took one from Sao Paulo to Manaus and it was a bit over 4 hours. From Porto Alegre to Fortaleza it's pushing 6 and bare in mind that many flights stop at least once, often twice so a total trip can be up to 10-11 hours.

    @7 I think Brazil will be the largest. All matches in '94 were held in the continental US which is smaller than Brazil. Never forget how big Alaska is...

    Personally, I think climate is being overblown. Cities in the South feel cold because things aren't built for it, but this doesn't affect stadiums. I stayed a friend's place in Curitiba during early August in a nice area and the flat didn't feature central heating, nor was it clearly designed to beat the cold. It's over 20c for 3 quarters of the year so it's hardly surprisingly.

    They could have done regional groups, just make sure the 2 Southern cities had their games during the day, it would be somewhere between 13-18c. Teams could have based themselves in Sao Paulo state where the temp would have been near prefect. Manaus is going to be horrible though, it's equatorial and the kind of place you wake up at 2am to have a cold shower before going to sleep. Incredibly sticky.

  • Comment number 26.

    #1. Apart from being the country with most WC titles and a source of players for clubs worldwide; Brazil is one of the biggest emerging markets... the world doesn't turn around Europe anymore.

    "poor old E4" hehe, we have two more years to wonder who will it be.

  • Comment number 27.

    #26 if England are E4 at least we have a readymade excuse for dismal performances and a quarter final knock out!

  • Comment number 28.

    The Brazil schedule is absolutely obvious, since presumably people from throughout Brazil will want to watch their team play.

    The temperature issue would be greater for those living in northern latitudes than those closer to the equator. It's the heat that will be difficult, not the cold.

    I suspect the power struggle between Rousseff and Teixeira is not yet concluded......

  • Comment number 29.

    @Bobby111 - not quite sure what you're getting at with the soil types - if you travel from the city of São Paulo to the interior of the state you'll see quite massive differences in soil type, just within 400km!
    That aside, I think whether games kick off in the afternoon or at night will make quite a difference, as you may find that the sun can still give off a fair amount of heat (compared to English standards) in the middle of winter, but at night the temp will be closer to zero.

    At least we're not dealing with massive altitude changes here - that for me would be more of an issue!

  • Comment number 30.

    It will be an interesting world cup!!!

    I just hope after the recent world cups we have had especially the last 2 that we get something special to remember!!!!!

  • Comment number 31.

    ~03. I think flight times maybe a little longer than that but Id agree the problems are not insurmountable.

    ~25. I agree but you are talking about an ideal world. Im sure some Americans in Alsaska would have liked to see fixtures there but you just cant play everywhere and leaving southern venues out in Brazil would solve a lot of problems.

    ~27 You are assunming a lot my friend!

    It will be a great world cup,only British fans can match the South Americans for enthusiasm when it comes to football. Of course they should have it in 2014 (and so should we in 2018 but lets not start that again!)

  • Comment number 32.

    7 makes an interesting comparison with USA 94, another large scale World Cup, this time with summer temperatures.

    A couple of years back I was at a press conference given by the coaches of the two finalists of that tournament, Parreira of Brazil and Sacchi of Italy.

    They were discussing the performance of Baresi in he final, where until he missed in the penalty shoot out, he hardly put a foot wrong - despite not having made a complete recovery from injury sustained earlier in the competition.

    The coaches joint conclusion - at that stage of the game, injured was better than tired.

  • Comment number 33.

    Erm, has no-one else thought of this one: have teams move clockwise or anti-clockwise around the country for their games? if the first group game between A1 and A2 is in Natal, the next will be in Recife? Does that make sense? Anyway, at least that way, you'd almost "acclimatise" players to the different weather conditions. Granted, this doesn't solve all the problems, like the long jump up the west of the country, but would make things fairer as everyone moves round at the same rate, and effectively has to travel the same distance. It's idealistic, i know, and wouldn't fit in with South American football politics, but still, it'd work. Just a thought.

  • Comment number 34.

    #31 Sorry dude, leaving Porto Alegre, the capital of the southernmost State of the country, or Curitiba is simply inconceivable. Comparing its importance to Alaska in '94 is simply wrong. Football in Brazil arised and developed during the 20th century around the big industrial cities of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Belo Horizonte and Porto Alegre and this is reflected in the big clubs that originated in or around these areas (Corinthians, São Paulo, Santos and Palmeiras from or around São Paulo; Flamengo, Fluminense, Vasco and Botafogo from Rio de Janeiro; Cruzeiro and Atlético Mineiro from Belo Horizonte; and Gremio and Internacional from Porto Alegre). Curitiba, Recife and Salvador also have big clubs and are major football markets. All these clubs count their fans in the millions, so leaving each of these cities out of the competition is running away from the footballing centres of the country: you would ignore a major market, especially the big four mentioned above.

    #3 Brazil is a huge country, about the size of Europe without the Russian part. It takes around 4 hours of a direct plane travel from SP to Manaus, and about 6 hours from Porto Alegre to Recife, plus transfers and check-in procedures, as well as transportation from the airport to the hotel itself (Belo Horizonte's main airport, for instance, is a 1-hour travel by car to the city itself). So travel times could be pushed to 10 to 11 hours in some cases, which is quite tiring for the athletes.

    But, really, I believe climate issues will count a lot. As I read somewhere in the comments above, there are huge differences in terms of climate around the country. The southern cities of Porto Alegre and Curitiba (or even São Paulo) provide relatively harsh cold weather, which varies in between 10-15°C, but can get as low as 0°C in some cases. But, since the matches will be played in the afternoon, I think it will be pretty comfortable for European standards.

    The problem will be the heat of the tropical and equatorial northern venues, in which winter is practically non-existent. Heat in these places can get to 45°C and are commonly kept at approximately 35°C, with very humid conditions (specially in Manaus). If adapting to these conditions is already difficult, imagine switching from a cold dry weather to a hot humid one and having to adapt to it in 4-5 days? Besides, it must be noticed that most European-based players are simply not used to playing in these varying conditions, which significantly slows the game down and changes the strategy that must be applied to a match (if you try the English running game in such conditions, for instance, your team will simply not be able to sustain pace beyond the 1st half of a match). Sure, heat affects both teams, but some will probably be more accustomed to it.

    In ’94 it was summer in the USA and pretty much uniform hot weather all-round: squads had time to adapt and kept playing basically in the same conditions during the whole event. In Brazil it will be very different.

    I think it will be interesting to see how teams will adapt their playing styles to these varying conditions during the competition, but I expect to see fast-paced games in the south and slow-paced ones in the north.

    PS.: One venue that also presents particular climate conditions is Brasilia, which is very dry during June-July, and usually has wild day-to-night temperature variations. During the night, it can get to almost freezing point sometimes.

  • Comment number 35.

    Tbf, Baresi could probably play with his arms tied behind his back and put in a masterclass performance - such was the mercurial talents of the man.

    I think its a catch-22 for the Brazilian authorities though. Yeah, great to lessen the number of games down south for tourist interest etc but the south (Curitiba in particular) probably has the most tourist friendly transport system in the whole of the country.

  • Comment number 36.

    The World Cup is awarded to a country, not to specific cities. Brazil's a big country and games need to be spread around the country. Until all World Cups are held in climate controlled domed/covered stadiums, this really does seem like a tempest in a teacup.

  • Comment number 37.

    For what it's worth, Brazil seem to have done the same thing about teams travelling round the country the last time they held the World Cup in 1950.

  • Comment number 38.

    Wow already people are finding excuses as to why some countries (especially England) will fail to be successful in the world cup and its 2011. I am glad that the world cup is being held in one of the world's greatest footballing nations with the greatest footballing history. The world cup is a festival of football and anyone who knows anything about brazil will know that it is famous for its party and carnival atmosphere. If anything we should be brining the world cup to these somewhat disadvantaged nations, it will help the world to have a heart and see what happiness football can bring to those living in the favelas and slums. Brazil is a beautiful country and is one of if the most passionate football country. They have always played football the right way so it is only fair that they should host such a prestigous tournament and they do have some fantastic stadiums and if there are still things which need to be fixed then that is fine, they have just under 3 years to sort that out, the english just need to stop being bitter that they were no-where near to hosting the 2018 world cup and let other countries have the spotlight.

  • Comment number 39.

    Sao Paulo- the country's biggest and arguably most important city and the one least equipped to host a World Cup group.Public transport is a joke, completely inadequate and provides a miserably experience every day for those living and working there.Hotel accommodation is also inadequate and there is no space to build anymore hotels. What will fans do in SP, what is there to see? Not much. The plan could be to base fans on the coast, where I live(Santos, Sao Vicente, Praia Grande) and have them bussed in for the matches but there aren't many hotels here either. One favourable thing about SP in June/July is that the temperature should be perfect for football.

  • Comment number 40.

    The WC in Brasil will be a complete succcess. But I don't think the hosts will win it.

  • Comment number 41.

    Tim, you have been living on Rio for too long. You are already thinking of temperatures as a carioca!

    The temperatures in Porto Alegre and Curitiba, during the day, will hardly fall below 6ºC in the coldest days, the average will probably be some 12ºC in the day, with colder temperatures in the night only, but less than 1% chance of getting below zero, even in the night.

    Porto Alegre is at sealevel. Subzero temperatures, occasional snow, only for any tourist that decides to stay at the hotels at the Serra Gaucha.

    I am sure most europeans will be able to face 10ºC temperatures and the minuano wind, wearing only shorts and t-shirts. Canadians might even ask for icecream, to help refresh them from the scorching heat.

    No need to worry.

  • Comment number 42.

    @3: pal... take out Porto Alegre and Curitiba? Read the article again. Porto Alegre is the 3rd force in brazilian football. (imho, it is definitly 3rd force... its two clubs have, together, 5 brazilian league titles, 5 Brazil Cup titles, 4 Libertadores and two Intercontinental Cups/Club World Cup titles. Belo Horizonte doesnt get near that)

    And Curitiba is proabably the 5th force in brazilian football, with Coritiba and Atlético Paranaense.

    Before removing Curitiba and Porto Alegre, which are not that far away from São Paulo, better to remove Manaus or Campo Grande for example! Those two cities dont even have clubs to play in their multi-billion dollar stadiums after the World Cup!

    Their stadiums are being built with public money SPECIALLY for the World Cup. Noone knows what use they will have after the World Cup. If they have some club in the brazilian D division, it would already be a surprise. And even so, that club probably has almost no supporters.

    Porto Alegre is the ONLY brazilian city where no public money whatsoever is being used to build stadiums. Corinthians in São Paulo got a nice $400 million from the State government. Atletico Paranaense is algo getting some help from Curitiba´s government.

    In Porto Alegre, Inter is getting none. And even more impressive (considering Brazil) is that their arch-rival, Grêmio, is building an even larger and BETTER stadium (UEFA Elite standart) to replace their old 1953 stadium... and Grêmio´s new stadium wont even be used in the World Cup.

  • Comment number 43.

    Distance was one of my concerns with Australia's WC bid, Brisbane-Perth is over 3600 kms (2240 miles), a 5hr 30 mins flight, the costs for visiting fans of internal flights added to the cost of getting here would be prohibitive. FIFA seems to pay little heed to such considerations when making decisions on venues.

    In passing, Australia spent more than England on a bid which always seemed to be a joke, with association football being only the fourth football code here after AFL, rugby union and rugby league. A-league champions Brisbane (unbeaten in 32 games) played their first game of the new season against last year's runners-up, their second against local rivals Gold Coast, both crowds were about 13,500. Most clubs have smaller gates.

  • Comment number 44.

    @13. 12:16 24th Oct 2011, Ten_Thousand_Fists

    You make a fair point, but surely it can't be more expensive than building new stadia in time for major tournaments?

  • Comment number 45.

    I lived in Curitiba for 18 months a few years back, so hearing that group games will be hosted across the country seems like a joke to me. As alluded in the blog, air travel in Brazil is a joke, particularly when you are travelling between certain cities as the airlines tend to use a hub and spoke model, i.e. you often have to change in a city like Rio or Sao Paulo (and worse, sometimes the plane will stop in another city en-route like a bus). Given the poor service levels of Brazilian airlines, where you would usually allow a couple of hours or so to make a connection, you usually leave 3-4 hours instead to be safe as the airports are chaotic (don't get me started on the time you might waste commuting to/from the airport - in cities like Sao Paulo this could be 2-4 hours depending on destination and traffic!). Air travel or not particularly cheap in Brazil either (and Brazil itself as a country has decidly first-world prices), so to say that this World Cup is planned with tourists in mind seems a bit of a joke to me... more like they want to maximise airline revenues!

    All told, it's going to be an expensive World Cup for fans...

    PS: June/July in Curitiba can actually be very pleasant - 15-25 degrees during the day, and more sunshine than other times of year when it can be hot and rainy/cloudy... I spent two winters there and it was rare for it to be below 10 degrees.

  • Comment number 46.

    #4 I don't even know how you'd expect to move an entire football stadium so much as 3 feet, let alone half way around the world. Even if it were possible and somehow cost effective, what makes you think old or disused stadia are good enough for the World Cup?

  • Comment number 47.

    I dont often like to criticise the governing bodies of our sport but it does seem that FIFA is increasingly making big mistakes time after time.

    From reading this blog Tim it does seem a mistake awarding Brazil the 2014 world cup, i wonder if we may just see the same scenario in Qatar...

  • Comment number 48.

    #46 10:53 25th Oct 2011, diego_83 wrote:

    I realise it wouldn't be easy, but given the WC hosts are usually decided between8-12 years in advance, coupled with the fact that a donation of a stadium doesn't necessarily mean that it would be decrepit (despite my original comment!) and could be an effective "pop-up" model for 2-3 World cups.

    I genuinely think this could work, storage of the stadia could be centralised in EU or North america. Shipping it over may be logistically difficult but given the time frame, the usual WC budget a nation sets aside I believe this could be a way forward. Heck, at least it's a talking point!

  • Comment number 49.

    Note: I travel to Brazil often and have spent a lot of time there. My partner is Brazilian, from Sao Paulo. Please bear with me in the following comment...

    Whilst there is absolutely no doubt that Brazilians themselves are very welcoming people they are also without doubt VERY proud people. They will not take criticism well. They will not accept advice from 'inferiors' - 'Europeans', the 'failing economy'.

    They will tell you that Europe is the past and emerging markets are the future. In reality - Brazil's story is one of MASSIVE debt expansion (20% annually). It is a CONSUMPTION boom.

    It is NOT a boom in infrastructure. Many of the surveys conducted, most particularly by the World Bank have highlighted this point. They consistently underinvest in infrastructure as a percentage of their GDP. Brazil's Government plays a huge role in the economy and is HIGHLY inefficient. This is not disputable.

    Indeed (they will say) there has been massive infrastructure projects taking place. And this is true. However, there can be absolutely no doubt; that this growth in infrastructure HAS NOT provided Brazil with a CAPACITY increase that has kept a pace with the growth of the wider economy.

    The WORLD CUP aside – Brazil’s roads and airports are crowded. And so often you read that in an article about Brazil but you will only understand when you spend time there. You will see people reading newspapers whilst driving. I am not joking. “Traffic” has a different meaning in Brazil.

    Do not expect to travel to Brazil and around Brazil cheaply because you perceive Brazil to be a poor country. That is a delusion. It will without a doubt cost a small fortune to travel around Brazil. The capacity of the hotels in all cities will be exceeded quickly and prices will be high. Air travel is not cheap in Brazil – nothing is. And that’s in normal times. (Taxes are high)

    For England fans – this can be the one World Cup you will be grateful that you support a team that always disappoints – because you would have run out of money by the 3rd game anyway.

  • Comment number 50.

    at 49.

    I think no one really likes to see criticism coming from the outside, we always get a little defensive. I can see though where you are coming from with your affirmation that Brazilians are very proud and don't accept comments from the inferior 'failing economies' - these are the new uninformed and heavily biased class of people, unfortunately very easy to find, that believes that the last government has transformed Brazil in the new super power. These people ignore all obvious failings you mentioned (I would only disagree with the massive increase of debt - it has indeed gone up but not as a percentage of GDP).

    Does that mean I think Brazil are no-hopers? of course not, I still think it will be an enjoyable experience for supporters that travel (albeit expensive) and for the ones that watch it on TV. But it would have the potential to be a lot better if proper planning and creative/business oriented thinking had been applied in the years that immediately followed the bid.

  • Comment number 51.

    Firstly, I am an Englishman living in São Paulo and can honestly say I am immensly looking forward to the world cup, especially happy that São Paulo has the opening game and a Semi final (as is only right for the biggest city in Brazil).

    Secondly, I think all the moaning about the scheduling is completely uncalled for. What is all this talk about no games in the South? The official region called the "south" in Brazil has two cities in this world cup - Porto Alegre and Curitiba. Porto Alegre has 5 games and Curitiba 4, what is the problem? Yes the northeast has more games but there are 4 stadiums in the north-east its not rocket science. Culturally both places are different and is better for the Brazilian economy that fans get the opportunity to see all parts of the beautiful and diverse Brazil.

    It seems that people want to group the south-east region with the south, ok, well if we take that in to account then the south has the better of the games, including the final, both semis, and the opener. Those who know nothing about Brazil are feeding off an image you were taught in school about Brazil being a poor country, don't be deceived. Come to São Paulo state and tell me this country is a poor country, yes its not as developed as Europe, but no its not as underdeveloped as Africa. Yet it is in the top 10 economies in the world and this world cup is the stimilus Brazil has needed to update its infrastructure. All in all the world cup will be great for Brazil and those who come will be lucky enough to see their teams play in diverse locations, yes its a big country , yes its climate will be diverse, but so what ? it will be a huge party froma country that is famous for partying and fooball, the perfect combo.

  • Comment number 52.

    @whitecapsfan wrote:

    Until all World Cups are held in climate controlled domed/covered stadiums, this really does seem like a tempest in a teacup.



    I hope that never happens.

    The worst atmosphere ever - by far - at a WC game was the indoor stadium at Sapporo in Japan.

    Indoor stadia are all well and good for ice-skating but football belongs outside!

  • Comment number 53.

    Normally it's around 8 years (Qatar is the 1st one to have 12 years to prepare)

    In terms of moving stadiums from Europe - unfortunately it becomes completely unworkable when you look at the logistics.
    1st of all where are you going to find stadiums that are available and of the correct standard? I can't think of any disused stadiums across Europe that would be acceptable
    2nd - the overall cost would be much higher for several reasons
    (i) One of the major costs of construction is labour. Now you will have to at least double that cost to unbuild the stadium where it is and build it again (not possible to transport it whole)
    (ii) Cost of transport vs cost of new raw materials. The cost of transporting all this material will be extremely high whereas concrete and steel (major components of a stadium) are relatively cheap to purchase in Brazil

    If someone invents a star-trek transporter beam that could beam the whole stadium from one spot to another then it becomes feasible but unfortunately until then it won't be

  • Comment number 54.

    @50. I was referring to private debt. You are making a reference to Public Debt to GDP ratio. And that is not good either - public debt is indeed rising. Of course as a percentage of GDP it is in-line. But you are then only looking at one side of the balance sheet and ignoring private debt expansion.

  • Comment number 55.

    #52 I couldn't agree more. Climate conditions are one of the main features that provide unexpected surprises in football matches. Take that out, and you eliminate part of the fun.

    And all this discussion about 'developed countries', 'first world this', 'third world that', frankly, is idealistic, biased and has nothing to do with the topic herein... Let's talk about football/soccer, please!

  • Comment number 56.

    I am an englishman living close to Bélem in the Para state and can say that a lot of people here were upset that Manaus got the world-cup games rather than Bélem.
    We have a 45000 seater stadium which while old I think could certainly be made into a world-cup venue for less than a new stadium. Plus the Stadium would get use.
    I went to a recent state championship game involving one of the Bélem teams (ok final so higher attendences) and the place was pretty-much full. The only big gaps I could see was in the section for the away supporters).

    Paysandu, my team here was one game away from qualifying for Serie B at the end of the last season and is in contention for promotion again this year and in the relatively recent past (this millenia) we have played in the Copa Libertadores
    A Brazil game was held here within the last month so the stadium would get used afterwards.

    We also have rainforest close-by - although I think where we do lose out to Manaus is Bélem isn't really a big tourist destination yet.

    I can't really comment on the weather in the South as I haven't been further South than Rio.

  • Comment number 57.

    at 54

    I thought you might be referring to private debt. However, if that is the case, private debt in Brazil is very very low compared to developed countries due to historic sky high interest rates and difficulty to obtain credit. In a period of expansion, when gradually these barriers are removed, the increase of private debt will be an expected - and, up to certain limits, desirable - outcome.

  • Comment number 58.

    AlexAD whether it is desirable or not ... An example: motor vehicle sales are up at record levels but investment in the roads they run on remains far below expected levels. This boosts the GDP figure partly because of the dramatic rise in these sales (indeed along with others). But this is CONSUMPTION boom NOT an infrastructure boom as stated earlier. This simply has not boosted productivity rates. That aside the system as a whole is becoming more congested, more inefficient (not less) and this is contributing ever more to higher costs. This is clearly the on-going theme.

  • Comment number 59.

    AlexAD further on credit. In your comparison you fall into the trap of comparing two countries. Brazil is a country of many countries essentially. Put simply, you need to look more at the groups who are borrowing the money (and real potential borrowers), and compare it with similar groups of other economies (a developed country as you mention). Currently of course credit is not very well developed or accessible. Lula government made some micro-reforms and it contributed to it becoming more accessible. However, Defaults have been rising in Brazil despite a persistently low unemployment. Granted, credit is obtained over shorter periods than credit in many developed countries but there is still this assymetric : Unemployment is very low, perhaps couldn't fall far lower and is therefore more likely to rise eventually from it's given range. Depending on who is made unemployed that can potentially turn a lot of credit bad - and defaults will rise.

  • Comment number 60.

    MrRipley, nice debtate

    Please note I have not contested your argument that the infrastructure is inadequate and its development much slower than necessary. I agree with that. My point was that the debt is not a root cause - even though you mention that the new found liquidity means additional strain on the inneficient setup. That is correct, but I would prefer well directed, material investments in infrastructure to correct that, rather than cutting access to credit. The expansion of the economy is a good thing, but right now your point is that this expansion is not sustainable - again I agree with that. But unfortunately the means to sustainability are not simple, and the debt level by itself not an explanation.

  • Comment number 61.

    brazil will be a great world cup, no doubt about it. i dont understand the issue with travelling, many of the players will be used to it from european games where they have to travel across europe and back in a few days, and international away/neutral games may be far away.

  • Comment number 62.

    Frankly, who cares about travel/weather? Non-european players usually travel a lot longer than that to play for their national teams, usually going from the Northern to Southern hemisphere and its corresponding huge temperature/humidity variations.

    Players from top/richer teams will be travelling in great comfort while those of lesser teams may travel economy but this will be more than made up for by their hunger and enthusiasm to be in the WC, so again, no issue.

    The real issue for the next WC is to get teams to at least attempt to play some football and try to win. Teams like Switzerland, Honduras, Greece (repeat offenders in the WC), Slovakia were a real waste of space with their ultra defensive tactics and anybody playing against Spain (except Chile who at least gave it a go) who were in such fear of them that paralysed them on the field. Except of course for the Netherlands who decided to perform a kungfu exhibition in the final.

    The WC will be exciting no matter where it is played, but I do hope they concentrate on improving the on-the-field product. The rest will all be anecdotal.

  • Comment number 63.

    btw, this article's arguments are scarily similar to the ones used by the CBF when trying to stop Bolivia playing in their capital city La Paz because of altitude. Something about it being "unfair" and "possibly dangerous" as Tim also mentions above.

  • Comment number 64.

    As the man said, of all the unimportant things in life football is the most important.

    I'm happy this blog has produced such a high level debate on weightier matters - many thanks to Alex Ad and Mr Ripley (and everyone else) for their contributions.

    For the little that it's worth - I'm no economist - I've often shared Mr Ripley's concerns - a consumption led boom with an expansion of credit - anchored by a trade realtionship with China which looks as problematic as the one with the traditional powers - Brazil exports raw materials, buys back manufactured product (with a currency so strong it's hard to sell anything manufactured abroad) - not enough quality jobs created and a vulnerability to a Chinese slowdown.

    On the other hand, I hope there has been a lasting change in mentality - less passive, more positive, with huge swathes of the population having justfied faith that their kids will have better prospects.

    Back to 2014 - we can all agree that infra-structure is often sub-standard - one of its weakest points is public transport options at airports. The airport taxi drivers - who charge a fortune - can probably hardly wait for the World Cup.

  • Comment number 65.

    So the poor players have to deal with long flights! Boo Hoo, will they be travelling economy?
    Different weather conditions! Boo Hoo?Perhaps all football should be in covered,climate controlled stadia?
    You think Qatar is a better venue for a world cup?
    I think the only people who prefer Qatar are Mr Blatter and his buddies

  • Comment number 66.

    Having spent some time living in Brazil I am sure it will be a fantastic World Cup... and everyone should make the most of it because I don't feel the same way about the two that will follow. Travelling will always be an issue of course and perhaps the oirganisers should have polled fans worldwide who are likely to travel and ask one simple question..... would you prefer to watch your nation's group games conveniently in one place or travel around the country doing it? Some will say one thing, some the other but it would be interesting to see which came out on top.

  • Comment number 67.

    I remember that game also for Baggio playing injured after his hamstring went in the semi final.

    I think this WC will be a great spectacle in a country with a great footballing tradition. Although for the foreign fan though, it will be a once in a lifetime expensive experience. The on-field product will be what it is #62. Very few of the teams coming to a WC have any real chance of winning it. Greece would never have won the Euro's if they hadn't parked the bus in vitually every single game. Sad but true. For most its about staying in as long as you can and Brazil 2014 will be no different.

    Have some sympathy with the posters who queried the ubiquitous 'lets build new staduims' policy that goes hand in hand with the WC these days. Madness. If memory serves me correctly however, the public sector was left to pick up the tab when there was lower than promised/ expected levels of private investment to build these stadia. What a surprise.

  • Comment number 68.

    iam suprised that they dont use one stadium or 2 for each group which would make it easier for fans and teams to organise hotels and travel.

    also brazil government needs the olympics and world cup to be a financial success to insure that they do not go backwards.

    its great to see other south american countries catching up with brazil and argentina. i do fear for the future of sport in general in brazil has politians and heads of governing bodies use their position to benefit themselves not the sport.

    the liverpool deal the nacional is for the long term so they will wait for the players to develop either at national or on loan at other european clubs where they can 1st football regularly. liverpool know that Uruguay can produce qualitly players from a small population which is more of an advantage where the coaches could concentrate on small groups of players rather than large groups like in brazil.

  • Comment number 69.

    Interesting piece Tim but like many people I have very little sympathy for many of the pampered players 'having' to play in temperatures too cold or too hot. For most it is just another cop-out excuse like being too tired after long hard seasons, the high/low altitude makes running harder or the new balls take too long to get used to. Ofcourse there is some empathy with travelling fans who pay over the odds for tickets etc...but for the rich footballers 'get a life'. I think the more obstacles they have to overcome the better - it makes for much worthier champions in the end.

  • Comment number 70.

    Curitiba in the winter is OK... fantastic strip clubs!

  • Comment number 71.

    @18 AlexAD
    In Australia, it's commonly understood that long distance flights affect match performance... there are no US-style East/West conferences in sport here & consequently teams based in Perth regularly travel 2000-3000km for away games. This issue is constantly brought up in the media; something to do with how flying interacts with the build-up of lactic acid in the body after sport. The net result is a significant competitive advantage for those flying less, especially in a World Cup where matches are a few days apart.

    Btw, long time reader and first time commenter, always an enjoyable read Tim!

  • Comment number 72.

    Could someone from the BBC explain why everytime I make some comments on your blog, when I hit "post comments" I get a message saying "we are experiencing problems posting your comments" nothing like "this post was removed as it didn't comply with house rules" or similar, as I live in Brasil I think that I had some pertinent points to make, my post should have been No. 64 (where your comments are posted Tim) this is the second time it has happened so it looks like I'm just wasting my time or has Big Brother returned. I don't expect to get an answer to this one either.

  • Comment number 73.

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

  • Comment number 74.

    Sometimes I ask myself if the FIFA officials even examine a bid properly before making a decision. This problem , like the Qatar one, should have only existed before the bid was accepted and not after.

  • Comment number 75.

    I am sure the 2014 world cup will be a huge success . I think Brazil's economy has enough strength to easily pull this thing off , then make some profits . What I am sure about is , how Brazil will perform there . Because fans there can be more of a pressure than help .

  • Comment number 76.

    Tim Vickery - Thank You for your kind remark :) (to both me and Alex)

    AlexAD - "But unfortunately the means to sustainability are not simple, and the debt level by itself not an explanation."

    I don't believe that I stated that debt by itself is the explanation. What I believe though is debt is a problem. It seems that you do not - which terrifies me. As Margeret Thatcher famously said, "you are not richer because you get a credit card!". I prefer growth through expansion of capital investment via savings... Savings rate in Brazil remains very low and this is not sustainable. You can't ignore the expansion of that debt and in the same conversation be talking about marvellous growth rates.. enormous surprises lay in waiting. This issue is simply not being addressed by the media here or in Brazil. Brazil (and other emerging markets) are being driven into a cycle of debt and this is quite frankly the same mistake being repeated in a different country.

    Politicians in the UK and in the developed nations are not owning up to the fact - you will not have the growth rates of the past partly because everyone is already in too much debt! They cannot borrow more (so cannot buy more stuff they don't need) so politicians will not be boasting about enormous growth rates. Consumers are paying down their credit cards; they are deleveraging.

    Back to Brazil - Without Cardoso reforms, Brazils pension obligations would have crushed the country by now. The Lula Administration made NO macro reforms. Today Globo news report defaults on the rise again... inflation is high.. and they are lowering interest rates... madness. Reform is what they need!

    Ask the Brazilians how much the Pan-American games cost... how many times the budget? I want to see if another person can guess? 4x? 8x? or 12x? or other? When it delays.. and it has already.. the costs escalate in a rush to finish. This will happen in Brazil without a doubt. The sums involved will be mind-boggling!

  • Comment number 77.

    AlexAD - I appreciate very much your remark "MrRipley, nice debate" and thank you for your patience. I am sorry if I appear pedantic. Kindest Regards

  • Comment number 78.

    It's really interesting to be that South American teams never win in Europe and European teams never win in South America. I am going with Brazil in 2014.
    [Unsuitable URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 79.

    MrRipley thanks - not pedantic at all. I may have come across as defending the debt on behalf of the Lula administration - please believe I am not at all an admirer of his government and am totally on your side on the positive remarks you made about Cardoso's reforms. To end the debateI concede debt is a concern but amongst several others that Lula failed to tackle.


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.