Will Brazil be ready for kick off?

March 28, 2011

SOCCER-LATAM/Everybody knows Brazil is booming these days. But they don’t always see the dark side of that progress: some of the world’s worst traffic jams, blackouts, and trucks that sit in lines for several days at harvest time because seaports are so full.

Hoping to fix those problems, Brazil plans more than $1 trillion in infrastructure improvements in the next decade, and the scope is pretty amazing. The government wants a bullet train between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo; a huge new hydroelectric dam in the Amazon; and a railroad criss-crossing Brazil’s northeast, a region that is a bit like the American Deep South in that it has historically lagged behind the rest of the country in investment.

The news isn’t all good though. Reuters did an investigation  of several high-profile projects and discovered that the plans aren’t coming together as hoped. Red tape, corruption, and a lack of leadership mean that as few as half of the projects might get completed on time.

Some of the problems could be resolved by the government, like a reform of procurement laws — which sometimes make auctions take longer than the actual construction process! But some of them are structural, like an unemployment rate of about 6 percent, near all-time lows, which has caused a shortage of skilled labor.

With Brazil due to host the soccer World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016, time is running out.

We don’t know if FIFA President Sepp Blatter read our report, but this is what he said today:

“I would like to tell my Brazilian colleagues about the 2014 World Cup, it’s tomorrow, the Brazilians think it’s just the day after tomorrow,” he told reporters.

“We are hoping for a little good faith, things are not advancing very quickly.

“If we compare (2010 hosts) South Africa and Brazil three years before the World Cup, then Brazil has not got as far as South Africa in its preparations.

“If Brazil keeps going like this there will not be matches in Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo at the Confederations Cup.”

Read the full special report in PDF format here.




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