With barely three weeks to go for kick-off, the worst fears are coming true about the ability, or rather inability, of Brazil to stage a smooth World Cup.
Construction delays, labor protests, security worries — the South American nation is grappling with all these and much more, providing naysayers an “I told you so” moment.
In the latest development, FIFA and local organizers have postponed the final test event at the Sao Paulo stadium, fueling fresh doubts about Brazil’s readiness to stage the tournament opener there.
The new test event will be staged less than two weeks before the high-profile opener between Brazil and Croatia on June 12, when 70,000 fans and guests are expected, Associated Press noted.
Meanwhile, contractors have said the roof of the stadium will not be fully finished in time for the tournament.
Adding to the woes of the organizers, violent protests and strikes are breaking out across the country as people question the changes the sporting event has brought — and what it hasn’t.
Demonstrations were held in 18 cities Thursday, with the biggest and most violent one in Sao Paulo, where police shot tear gas and protesters threw rocks.
Protesters accuse the government of spending billions on new stadiums and not enough on low-income housing.
“The World Cup has done nothing to help us,” CNN quoted a woman named Diana, who has been on a list for a government-subsidized house for a decade, as saying. “So we decided to use it as a platform to make our voices heard.”
Across the country in Recife, also a World Cup venue, soldiers were deployed to rein in crime and looting after police went on strike there.
Now, even football legend Pele has criticized his nation’s organization of the World Cup, saying that billions have been spent unwisely.
Brazil is said to be spending about US$11 billion overall on the World Cup, and US $4 billion alone on 12 new and refurbished stadiums.
“It’s clear that politically speaking, the money spent to build the stadiums was a lot, and in some cases was more than it should have been,” Pele said this week.
For the beleaguered government and organizers, the soccer icon’s comments could perhaps be the unkindest cut of all.
– Contact us as [email protected]