By Bongani Mtshwene
n 1950, Brazil lost the world cup to Argentina in their own backyard. On this occasion, it seems that they are losing it to time.
Brazil faces a number of delays regarding to world cup preparations, probably the worst in recent times.
When Brazil hosted the world cup in 1950, the tournament was described as chaotic and disorganised, and much of the same air currently overshadows the country’s world cup preparations.
Brazil’s first stint as hosts of the world cup was a logistical nightmare due to groups and venues which were not matched accordingly. Teams had to frequently trek up and down the large land mass, 8,514,212 km² to be exact (which is way larger than South Africa).
Withdrawals from visiting teams, the lack of a cemented fixture schedule, and the incomplete Maracana stadium was the biggest problems they faced.
The burning question now is how Brazil will react as the past threatens to play out in the present.
- · The GDP has plummeted from 7, 5% in 2010 to just 0, 9% in 2012 and continues to dwindle.
- · There are delays in the electricity projects in half of the host cities.
- · The Brazil government fears that water rationing will hit the host city during the tournament, following a record dry summer.
- · The percentage of those in favour of the World Cup has fallen from 79% in 2008 to 48% in April 2014. Fifa Secretary-general Jerome Valcke maintains a new Fif a survey in May reveals that 57% of Brazilians are excited about the tournament, and the number looks displeasing.
- · Labour action and protests could still disrupt the event. Although protests have cooled since last year when more than a million people took to the streets.
- · Ailing infrastructure (just 1, 5% of Brazil’s GDP is invested in infrastructure) also raises the cost of goods. That can’t be good for tourists.
- · Eight construction workers have died on the job, while only two died in South Africa ahead of the 2010 world cup. This causes concern about the safety of the workers and usability of the sites.
- · Work continues on some stadia that have since been handed over to Fifa on May 20th.
To add to more of Brazil’s problems, in Germany in 2006, stadiums were ready to be tested in January of that year and South Africa met the deadline a few weeks before the event in 2010.
What worries critics the most is how South Africa managed to beat Brazil pound for pound regarding planning for the tournament.
South Africa was a first time host whereas Brazil has had experience with an event of this scale.
Looking closer to home South Africa had been criticised for taking too long to construct and refurbish some of the stadia but by the end of the group stages, the Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke felt secure enough to joke that South Africa had been so successful that it would become "plan B" for all future tournaments.
A few feats that Mzansi can brag about:
- · All 10 stadia being completed with weeks to spare.
- · A crime free confederations and world cup tournament, in spite of South Africa being listed as a crime hotspot.
- · The BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) system in Johannesburg that assisted in transporting people to and from the match venues and fan parks. South Africa has done relatively well in comparison to countries like Germany and Korea which both have bullet trains.
- · With over 4 million visitors, the vivid memory of vuvuzelas, and fan parks packed to the brim, no one can say the country wasn’t behind the event. Even in the face of a Bafana Bafana loss during the group stages, the country rallied behind Ghana, showing the world what African unity is.
- · Infrastructure development is one of the legacies the world cup has left behind.
- · 130 000 jobs were created, most of which were temporary construction work but some of them remained sustainable, some of which are security and stadium management.
- · In December 2010 Fifa president Sepp Blatter rated South Africa’s organisational efforts 9 out of 10.
After thorough success on African soil, one can’t help but wonder how Brazil is going to fair this time around.
With the event less than two weeks away from kick-off, Brazil’s credibility has been questioned. This is not a good thing, especially because they are to host the 2016 Olympic Games.
The World Cup has also stoked another favourite topic of discussion among Brazilians — the famed “custo Brasil” (cost of Brazil); steep costs that are fuelled in part by high taxes.
As a result, Big Mac meal, in this instance would cost almost R93, double what it costs in SA, and at this rate Brazil would need a miracle to host a world cup half as breathtakingly effective as that of South Africa.
Will Brazil make it in time?
That question will be answered next weekend.
Brazil is definitely a tourist destination but I don’t think I can stomach a Big Mac that costs 100 bucks. Just saying.