“No stadium is behind schedule. All projects are proceeding well and we have reached cruise speed,” FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) secretary general Jerome Valcke voiced to the press this week.
There had been concerns over Brazil’s crime levels, transportation system, and stadium preparations. Despite all the anxieties, Brazil seems to be on course to be prepared for hosting the 2014 World Cup. This is a great turn-around. After all, in the words of Fernando Duarte, “Not even the most optimistic citizen ever believed Brazil would deliver a World Cup with Germanic efficiency when the country was granted the tournament in October 2007.”
How could hosting the tournament change Brazil?
According to FIFA, the benefits of hosting a World Cup include:
•A catalyst for new and improved facilities to support the development of the game at all levels.
•Increased number of and higher quality football development programs for both the elite game, talent identification and grassroots.
•Increased cooperation and goodwill between the various stakeholders – the member association, the government and other bid stakeholders such as the bid host cities, commercial partners, the media and the community at large.
•Increased civic pride and community empowerment as groups of stakeholders get to contribute to and support the bid, together with new skills and training for those involved in delivering the event.
•Enhanced partnerships and greater commercial activity and investment from new sponsors, media, broadcasters and large corporations.
•Help in breaking down social barriers to participation and high performance by both women and young people.
•Using successful players as role models to encourage young and emerging players and to promote health and other social benefits.
All of these potential social benefits would be important for Brazil. However, what about the more visible changes?
Well regard to crime, progress had been made. This morning two more shantytowns were raided by police in northern Rio de Janeiro. Police said they seized automatic weapons, guns, and grenades, and arrested dozens of people involved in drug dealing. This raid was part of a larger long-term goal to secure 40 slums before the tournament kicks off. Lowering the country’s high crime levels is essential to Brazil’s future.
Transportation will improve too. A US$66 billion transportation investment package was announced by President Rousseff in August. The investment includes laying 6,200 miles of train tracks and building or widening 4,660 miles of federal highways, with more plans soon for airports, ports, and transportation on waterways. “We’re starting an initial stage from which Brazil will emerge richer and stronger,” Ms. Rousseff said. “Brazil will finally have an infrastructure that’s compatible with its size.”
Another potential boast lies in tourism. For Germany 2006 3.2 million fans visited the country during the finals and a further 2 million came to soak up the atmosphere. FIFA reports that viewing figures for the 2006 Finals topped 36 billion for all the games combined. This is expected to top 40 billion for the Finals in Brazil. All eyes will be on Brazil and if the country puts on a good show…many people will come for a closer look.
Critics claim that hosting a tournament of this scale is far too costly for the tax payer. However the potential economic benefits are huge. Take Japan and South Korea in 2002 for example. The Japanese government invested $7 billion in infrastructure for the 2002 World Cup Finals and they credit the event with ending a 12 year economic slump. South Korea claims that its service, construction and banking industry rose by 15% thanks to being event hosts. It was reported that in 1998 when France hosted the FIFA World Cup Finals real estate values in Paris rose 55% and some other less developed areas of the country rose beyond 100%.
Brazilian Bank Itaú predicts the 2014 World Cup will increase the country’s GDP 1.5% in three years, according to Beatriz Olivon of EXAME.com. The study reveals the sectors that will benefit the most from the World Cup will be “hospitality, transportation, communications, cultural intellect and retail trade.” The study also estimates that, “apart from the temporary jobs during the event,” 250,000 Brazil’s middle class should increase by 23%, going from 114 million to 140 million people.