It’s the land of the “jogo bonito”….the beautiful game. Brazil. And this year they will be the host nation for the biggest game of all. The World Cup. Billions of spectators around the world are all waiting for the big moment. During thirty consecutive days, the eyes of the world will be on one ball. The 32 teams traveling to the international tournament are as ready as they can be. The ball they’ll use, called the Brazuca, has also been launched well ahead of the tournament.
However, as Correspondent Stephen Gibbs reports, preparations for Brazil’s World Cup have not gone as organizers had planned. In fact, Brazilian officials are under significant pressure. Although men and machines are working non-stop to make a deadline that is now dangerously close – June – construction delays, including a crane collapse in the Sao Paulo stadium that killed two workers, have caused concern.
In addition to the construction complications, observers fear Brazil’s hotels, airports and roads are not ready to handle the tourists for a tournament of this scale. Traffic at the best of times in many of the host cities can be chaotic.
Last year, Pope Francis was mobbed when he arrived in Rio de Janeiro. His car stuck in traffic presented a major security headache for Brazilian authorities. And this despite the fact that Rio is what is known as an “intelligent city,” with a highly sophisticated traffic management system.
Brazil’s problems don’t end there.
When the tournament starts, some of that surveillance technology will be surveying the scene for protests. Last June millions here took to the streets to complain about poor public services and corrupt politicians. And there were complaints about World Cup spending too – seen by some Brazilians as a huge waste of money. Brazil’s chronically overcrowded airports are another problem. Terminals are still being renovated. Airlines are concerned about shifting operations to new gates so close to the tournament’s start. In the northeastern city of Fortaleza, renovation of the airport is years behind schedule. The completion date for its new terminal has been pushed back to 2017.
In a country where football really is seen as something close to a religion, a win for Brazil would likely boost the country’s political image and national spirit. They have a football history to celebrate – no national side has won so many World Cups.
But will this forthcoming tournament ultimately prove a match worth taking on? Some wonder whether this developing country has taken on too much.
Follow Stephen Gibbs on Twitter @STHGibb