by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz
Brazil has spent so far close to US$12 billion dollars preparing for the upcoming World Cup, making this year’s World Cup the priciest ever.
The logistics are gigantic: Twelve cities, thousands of miles apart, building new stadiums, each with capacity ranging between 35,000 to 70,000 people – and the need to provide the supporting infrastructure to room, feed, transport, and host the crowds.
The stadiums alone have cost more than the stadium bill for the last two Cups combined; two are unfinished, while the cities are rushing to complete roads, sidewalks and other Cup-related infrastructure.
Eight years ago, the idea of hosting the World Cup was sold to the Brazilian people as showing the world that the country of 200 million was on its way to become a world power; the projects would be financed through private investment and the entire country would benefit:
Brazil’s government insisted on staging games in 12 cities, rather than the required eight, in order to spread the benefits across the country.
The reality is that costs are way over budget, as
Red tape and overlapping federal, state and municipal fiefs have snarled projects. Jérôme Valcke, secretary-general of FIFA, football’s governing body, has described dealing with Brazilian authorities as “hell”. Eight construction workers have died in accidents, six more than in South Africa four years ago. FIFA insists stadiums will be ready when fans start pouring in. But delays have left little time to install and test telecommunications kit, prompting worries over patchy television and radio transmission.
Thousands of poor people have been forcibly evacuated from slums to make room for the construction, adding to the violent demonstrations held throughout the country in the past year.
Support for hosting the World Cup has fallen sharply, from 79% after it was awarded to Brazil in 2007 to 48% now. The economy is growing at a slower pace, inflations’s up, and, in another survey,
61% of Brazilians say hosting the World Cup is a “bad thing because it takes money away from public services,”
especially schools and hospitals.
Yesterday protestors launched giant soccer balls to protest the amount of taxpayers’ money Brazil is spending,
Activists with the group Rio de Paz launched 12 balls each 2 meters (about 6.6 feet) in diameter from the avenue with red crosses painted on them to symbolize the lack of security in a country where, according to official figures, some 50,000 people are murdered each year.
At least that one was a peaceful protest.
Brazilians are angry at the government,
Nao Vai Ter Copa has become a national rallying cry. There Will Be No World Cup.
There’s even a group of anarchists calling themselves the Black Bloc ready to “raise hell.”
Therefore, on top of the $12billion already spent, Brazil is spending another $855 million on security and safety and deploy 57,000 troops and 100,000 police.
We shall find out soon enough: The opener is on June 12 in Sao Paulo. President Dilma Rousseff insists the games will be a resounding success.
Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin America culture and politics at Fausta’s Blog.