Preparations for World Cup strain resources

HOST INTRO: The world’s most popular sporting event will be held in Brazil in less than 6 weeks. But preparations are over-budget and behind schedule. Marie Shabaya reports.

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Brazil needed to build 5 new stadiums, refurbish 7 others, and expand 12 airports across the country for the World Cup this summer. Construction has already cost between 11 and 13 billion dollars but the projects aren’t complete. So Brazil is set to exceed the

estimated cost of  $ 14 billion. That was already more than Germany and South Africa spent on the last two World Cups combined. Brazilian taxpayers are footing around 85% of the bill.

Veteran soccer journalist Paul Gardner has been covering World Cups since the 70s. He’s not impressed by the amount of money being pumped into the games.

GARDNER:  It does border on the scandalous that huge, vast amounts of money are spent in a country where there is still considerable poverty…You are seeing, for the first time, the results of that in Brazil where you’ve had popular demonstrations on the streets saying why are you spending all this money on building stadiums which will be of doubtful use once the World Cup is over and we need schools, we need hospitals…

AMBI: Sao Paulo Protests

Protesters in Sao Paulo last year agreed with Gardner—they want more schools, better hospitals and sanitation even though they LOVE the sport. There were more protests last week. And Brazil is not going to stop spending on sports infrastructure any time soon. Alejandro de Castro Mazzaro is a Professor of Urban Planning at Columbia University he says as soon as the World Cup is over the country will have start preparing to host the 2016 Olympics.

MAZZARO: The Maracana stadium for example which is the most iconic stadium in Rio De Janeiro is going to undergo a renovation that is going to cost the same amount it cost to build the stadium itself so that is a very big criticism.

Hundreds of thousands of  fans are expected to come to Brazil to see the World Cup, de Castro Mazzaro says there aren’t even enough places for them to stay

MAZZARO: …in some cases even informal lodging are being facilitated by the municipalities of those cities because they know that the hotel infrastructure will not serve or suffice.

But all those tourists will be spending money— not just on hotels but travelling from match to match … on meals and maybe even some booze. And that may give  Brazil’s economy a short-term boost. South Africa netted more than $21 billion from its World Cup four years ago. Britain’s economy got a boost of almost $9 billion from the London Olympics.

And Brazil is no longer quite the poverty stricken nation that  critics like journalist Paul Gardner suggests, according to Marcela Tovar-Restrepo , who also teaches Urban Planning at Columbia and studies Latin America.

TOVAR-RESTREPO: Brazil has been getting better and better in terms of reducing poverty and in terms of giving people more access to education and having a larger middle class, 54% now, so that’s something unique. [16s]

This will be the first time the world cup will be held in South America since 1978 when the tournament took place in Argentina. That was soccer journalist Paul Gardner’s  first World Cup. The protests in Sao Paulo aren’t nearly as dramatic as what unfolded then.

GARDNER: Generals, a very nasty group, were running the country.  When they took over they appointed a General to run the World Cup and he was assassinated before his first press conference in the street on the way…he was killed.

Gardner turns 84 in a few weeks and says Brazil will be his last World Cup. The first game will be on June 12th when Brazil takes on Croatia in Sao Paulo.

Marie Shabaya, Columbia Radio News

 

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