World Cup 2014 – playing for legacy or for profit?

World Cup 2014 – playing for legacy or for profit?

It has been almost one year since the World Cup 2014 kicked off at the Corinthians Stadium in São Paulo, which was still unfinished at the time. On March 19 the Brazilian daily Estadāo published an article on FIFA’s profit from the tournament: a record breaking 16 billion Brazilian Reais (about $5 billion). It was back in October 2007 when FIFA announced that Brazil would be the host of the 2014 World Cup. The enthusiasm that followed helped President Lula to propel his successor Dilma Rousseff to the presidency. For Lula it was a double win after the IOC also chose Rio de Janeiro to host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games . This gave the country 7 years to prepare the infrastructure for the World Cup and 9 years for the Olympics. The economic situation of the country was looking positive and some reports suggested that Brazil was set to become an economic power by the year 2014. When Brazil’s plans for the World Cup were presented, the costs for the government were supposed to be minimal, as the costs of the stadiums and infrastructure was supposed to be covered by construction companies, such as Odebrecht, and FIFA. In the end 97% of the funding came from public funds instead, but the control and usage rights of the stadium stayed with the companies that built the stadiums. For example, a group of companies led by Odebrecht won the right to operate the Maracanã Stadium for the next 35 years. This led to several demonstrations during the Confederations Cup in 2013, a competition that FIFA traditionally has used as a test run the year before the World Cup. The people of Brazil were starting to realize the negative impact that the hosting of the tournament would have on the country’s economy, and that they may not profit from the World Cup. The heritage of the Brazil World Cup, besides the embarrassment of the defeat against Germany in the semifinal, should have been a legacy of 12 magnificent stadiums in accordance to FIFA standards. In Brazil the crowd became more corporate by reducing the capacity, and at the same time increasing ticket prices. Furthermore, the eviction of people living around the stadium alienated many of the traditional visitors to stadiums such as the Maracanã. Three host cities, Brasilia, Cuiaba and Manaus had no professional teams in the First, Second or Third tier of the Brazilian League. These three stadiums have become white elephants, and the stadium in Brasilia is now being used as an office as well as a parking lot for buses. The government of Dilma Rousseff is being questioned corruptions allegations, such as the Petrobras affair, and the costs of the tournament, and FIFA is not being pursued over some of the issues raised during the construction of stadiums, and infrastructure. The imposing costs and the lack of use of these stadiums are due to the ambitious project to have 12 cities hosting games across a massive country such as Brazil. The expenses that FIFA had to cover were quite small, as FIFA made Brazil cover the costs for infrastructure. Due to the high profile of the World Cup, the profit for FIFA will continue to grow with future competitions, especially considering that the host country almost always carries the burden of the majority of the cost. By Thomas Farines-

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It has been almost one year since the World Cup 2014 kicked off at the Corinthians Stadium in São Paulo, which was still unfinished at the time. On March 19 the Brazilian daily Estadāo published an article on FIFA’s profit from the tournament: a record breaking 16 billion Brazilian Reais (about $5 billion).

It was back in October 2007 when FIFA announced that Brazil would be the host of the 2014 World Cup. The enthusiasm that followed helped President Lula to propel his successor Dilma Rousseff to the presidency. For Lula it was a double win after the IOC also chose Rio de Janeiro to host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games . This gave the country 7 years to prepare the infrastructure for the World Cup and 9 years for the Olympics. The economic situation of the country was looking positive and some reports suggested that Brazil was set to become an economic power by the year 2014.

When Brazil’s plans for the World Cup were presented, the costs for the government were supposed to be minimal, as the costs of the stadiums and infrastructure was supposed to be covered by construction companies, such as Odebrecht, and FIFA. In the end 97% of the funding came from public funds instead, but the control and usage rights of the stadium stayed with the companies that built the stadiums. For example, a group of companies led by Odebrecht won the right to operate the Maracanã Stadium for the next 35 years.

This led to several demonstrations during the Confederations Cup in 2013, a competition that FIFA traditionally has used as a test run the year before the World Cup. The people of Brazil were starting to realize the negative impact that the hosting of the tournament would have on the country’s economy, and that they may not profit from the World Cup.

The heritage of the Brazil World Cup, besides the embarrassment of the defeat against Germany in the semifinal, should have been a legacy of 12 magnificent stadiums in accordance to FIFA standards. In Brazil the crowd became more corporate by reducing the capacity, and at the same time increasing ticket prices.

Furthermore, the eviction of people living around the stadium alienated many of the traditional visitors to stadiums such as the Maracanã. Three host cities, Brasilia, Cuiaba and Manaus had no professional teams in the First, Second or Third tier of the Brazilian League. These three stadiums have become white elephants, and the stadium in Brasilia is now being used as an office as well as a parking lot for buses.

The government of Dilma Rousseff is being questioned corruptions allegations, such as the Petrobras affair, and the costs of the tournament, and FIFA is not being pursued over some of the issues raised during the construction of stadiums, and infrastructure. The imposing costs and the lack of use of these stadiums are due to the ambitious project to have 12 cities hosting games across a massive country such as Brazil. The expenses that FIFA had to cover were quite small, as FIFA made Brazil cover the costs for infrastructure. Due to the high profile of the World Cup, the profit for FIFA will continue to grow with future competitions, especially considering that the host country almost always carries the burden of the majority of the cost.

By Thomas Farines

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