Just as it seemed that the conclusion of this summer’s Confederations Cup would alleviate some of the scrutiny surrounding Brazil’s hosting of the World Cup next year, fresh doubts have emerged about whether the country will be ready to sustain the burden that the FIFA showpiece will place upon its infrastructure.
The Los Angeles Times’ Chris Kraul reported Friday that Brazilian trade experts are openly questioning whether the nation’s mass transit systems and hotels will be prepared to handle the influx of visitors that will arrive in the country for the World Cup next June. The piece highlights Sao Paulo Guarulhos International Airport, which was ranked the worst of 26 major Latin American aiports by Latin Trade magazine, as one cause for concern, as well as how only 2% of $3.3 billion budgeted to improve infrastructure has been spent, according to Reuters.
“[Brazil will] make it to the Cup but the infrastructure won’t be ready,” one Brazilian business consultant told the paper, while a senior fellow from one D.C. economics think tank predicted that “The World Cup will give Brazil a black eye.”
It is also likely that less than half of the 22,000 hotel rooms that Rio had promised to add by 2014 will be ready, with the city planning to berth six cruise ships in Guanabara Bay to house tourists — though are doubts whether the Bay’s port will even be revamped in time.
As noted in the piece, the reasons for Brazil’s gross incompetence in preparing for the World Cup are the same reason why protesters flooded the nation’s streets during the Confederations Cup, drawing the international spotlight — “corruption, a high cost of living, the rise in inflation and a heavy tax burden,” according to the consultant.
One can only imagine how FIFA President Sepp Blatter will respond to such concerns, with Blatter already publicly second-guessing the governing body’s decision to award Brazil the tournament in the first place. Blatter has expressed nothing but disdain for demonstrations highlighting serious socioeconomic issues in the country – appearing to view them as little more than an inconvenience to FIFA’s plans.
As the World Cup gradually draws closer, the scrutiny surrounding Brazil’s preparations – and FIFA’s handling of the entire situation – can only be expected to intensify.