The FIFA World Cup 2014 dubbed the biggest show on Earth etc etc started off with a inaudible bang on 12th June in Sao Paulo, Brazil. When Brazil won the rights to host this edition of the FIFA WC back in 2007 many promises and plans were devised and presented but sadly after 7 years many of those remain unexecuted.
Certain sections of the media has been quiet about these severe lack in infrastructure and the protests that continue in the country over the drain on its economic resources to host the most expensive World Cup yet.
The $11.5 billion spending on the event, three times the amount spent by South Africa in 2010, in contrast with deplorable conditions in the health and education sectors, has converted the World Cup into an unfortunate white elephant for a sizeable section of Brazilian society to rile at.
Deaths of construction workers, delays in stadium building, spiraling costs and, finally, issues with mobile connectivity in a number of stadiums are just a few of the many problems. In fact out of the 12 stadiums being built as venues for the games to be played one doesn’t have a roof yet and 5 others are in various stages of incompletion. Thus, only 6 stadiums are available for game play. Not to mention the 244 km long traffic snarl that recently affected Sao Paulo. The promised Metro rail has not met its deadline, experts believe it will take another 3 years to complete. So, the football fans will have to take public transport by road or drive their vehicle in order to reach the Venues. Although the President of Brazil inaugurated the new section of the Sao Paulo international airport terminal, the reality is this terminal will not be handling the projected number of incoming flights as it is not fully functional.
The protests against the misappropriation of funds and the cloud of allegation against the Government departments and official continue even the World Cup begins. May be the only counter to this aggression is Brazil’s team winning this edition of World Cup. But what if they lose, what will be the repercussions? Will the players security come under threat or their families be at risk of being attacked? The wrath of the public already irked may come down heavily on them.
We are all familiar with countries using the sporting events as a fast track urban development method, a means to an end, where hosting mega events like these is a prestige project with much political score. We know that such projects can bring unprecedented and exponential urban regeneration like seen in the case of the Olympic held in Barcelona in 1992 but on the other hand we have the stark example of utter failure in our own country, with the Commonwealth Games hosted at Delhi in 2010.
Hope springs eternal in the human heart, despite the speculation about South Africa to successfully host the FIFA World Cup in 2010, the nation did stand strong and deliver. In fact, the horrendous build up to the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010, was also followed by a decent show.
In the lead up to this edition of the World Cup the favorites to win the tournament are not clear. There are far too many contenders, Germany , Spain and Belgium are the European favorites, and Portugal and England have a half decent chance to make it to the finals, if the argument stands that a win is essential for the Brazilian team in order to make this event a true success to their countrymen then Brazil has the biggest stake.
Brazil known to be the Mecca of football is struggling with the clash between the fantasy of winning the World Cup a record 6th time and the loss of faith and disillusionment over its Government’s decision to host an event that is showing no return on investment. Can then the fantasy of the game rise above the stark reality of economic oppression and poverty and the lack of infrastructure and inability of developing countries to host big international mega events or shall the failure of Brazil result in loss of hosting rights to the Olympic Games in 2016?