10 August 2010

2014, General Silence.

There's not much to report on Brazil's preparations for the 2014 World Cup.

Marcia Lins, the Rio State Secretary of Sport, Tourism and Leisure has delayed the closing of the Maracanã until December, the third such delay this year. She continues to guarantee that the R$720 million reform will be completed by December 31, 2012. There has been no public debate regarding the project, no explanation of what the money will go to, no reason given for the poorly executed reforms of 2005-2007.

The best case scenario (if best case involves hundreds of millions of public R$ combined with private investment towards a stadium that will be too expensive to maintain and too big for the crowds it attracts) appears to be Belo Horizonte, which has closed the Minerão and actually begun work on the stadium reforms. The cost estimates vary, but appear to be in the range of R$650-R$800 million. In the meantime, no one is going to the games of Atletico or Cruzeiro (BH's big local sides) because the games are happening in stadiums at least 70km away.

The situation in São Paulo has not changed. Brazil's largest city is without a stadium for the World Cup. I don't think this is so bad,  as the WC would have a minimal impact on SP's economy, the city is a terrible place to move around, there isn't much in the way of tourist infrasturcture, the airports are in total chaos, and there is no functional public transportation to the Morumbi (not there shouldn't be, but it's not even in the plans). The hidden story here is the political clash between the president of São Paulo F.C. Juvenal Juvêncio and Ricardo Teixeira of the CBF. Juvêncio is the president of the Group of 13 which represents the financial interests of the 13 largest Brazilian clubs. There are in a constant battle with the CBF over the (dis)organization of Brazilian footy, television contracts, etc. The party line, and the one most often repeated in the media, is that São Paulo has not put together a package that meets FIFA's requirements. The reality is much more complicated. My guess is that the Morumbi project will start late, cost 5x the initial budget, and will host the opening game.

In a sign of radical awakening ahead of the announcement for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, two prominent Belgium politicians had the audacity to question whether or not FIFA should be granted tax-exempt status and be allowed to completely privatize the public space around public stadiums that have been privatized for FIFA's event. There was no such outrage here in Brazil when Lula signed into law a tax-free exemption for EVERYTHING that has to do with hosting the 2014 WC and 2016 Olympics. Open the doors boys, we're hosting a party for the super rich (but don't do anything until after the elections and then let the gringos through will all of their tax exempt goods). Meanwhile the USA jacket my mom sent me for my birthday, in June, is being held for a R$275 ransom by the Brazilian post office. I tried to go challenge the estimate...

The tabulations, results, balance, and rap sheets from South Africa are beginning to trickle in. There won't be much need for journalists four years from now as we will be able to copy and paste what our South African colleagues are finding. We will also be able to save our collective words by repeating what a few intrepid souls have been saying about the 2007 Pan American Games. Que vergonha! Fala seh:rio! Não dah para acreditar! Pô! Você está brincando!  Tá bobo? Vai tomar banho meu filho tu fede demais!

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