If it’s Thursday, it must be the Amazon
There’s been a lot of talk about whether South Africa will be up to staging the 2010 World Cup but what about the hosts for the following event in Brazil?
A three-man FIFA team is currently in the South American nation, visiting the 17 cities which have put themselves forward as potential venues. The 12 lucky ones will be announced by FIFA on March 20. The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) describes the FIFA trio as an “inspection committee”.
To an outsider, a close look at Brazil’s efforts seems to be long overdue. When the country won the right, unopposed, to stage the event in October 2007, many critics wondered whether the stadiums, transport and hotels would be up to scratch. And then there are the worries over the startling crime rate in many cities.
But a quick look at the FIFA team’s itinerary raises questions about how thorough this investigation really is:
Jan 30 – Sao Paulo
Jan 31 – Porto Alegre and Florianopolis
Feb 1 – Coritiba, Rio de Janeiro
Feb 2 – Belo Horizonte, Brasília
Feb 3 – Goiania, Campo Grande
Feb 4 – Cuiaba, Rio Branco
Feb 5 – Manaus, Belem
Feb 6 - Salvador, Recife and Natal
Feb 7 – Fortaleza
That is 17 cities in nine days, spread over a country which is bigger than continental United States.
Here’s how former Brazil striker Tostao, now a highly respected newspaper columnist, put it: “The FIFA members arrive at the stadiums by helicopter, look one way, they look another and say that everything is going very well, even when there’s no work going on. They have lunch with the authorities and, in the same day, go on to another city.
“The FIFA inspection… is more to do with protocol and is symbolic. Everything has been decided by way of videos and reports.”
PHOTO: FIFA’s Director of Marketing Thierry Weil (C), Dick Wiles (L), co-chairman of Match Company and Fulvio Danilas, general coordinator of FIFA 2014 World Cup in Brazil, pose for the media during their visit to Sao Paulo, Jan. 30, 2009. REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker