If only Fifa could take notice

2013-06-23 14:01

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Exorbitant costs can’t be business as usual.

Two major events dominated Brazilian news this past week.

One, the Fifa Confederations Cup that started last Saturday where the Seleção – Brazil’s national football team – finally did well, with inspiring performances by 21-year-old Neymar da Silva Jr. Two, the nation descended into chaos.

This time of year was supposed to be a glorious period for Brazilians at large, days of excitement for a football-mad nation.

So it is deeply ironic that perhaps the nation most associated with The Beautiful Game, five times Fifa World Cup champions, should be the place where the costs of hosting the event became a serious social and political issue – with possible consequences for future editions of the tournament.

For the last two weeks, Brazilians have taken to the streets in both peaceful and violent protests.

It all started against the rise in bus fares in São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city and economic centre, but it mushroomed into a myriad demands.

The costs of stadiums were high on the list.

Suddenly, it seems, Brazilians do not tolerate white elephants any more.

The new National Stadium in Brasília, where the opening match between the Seleção and Japan was played, is a marvellous monument to the waste of money.

Brand new, with a capacity of 72?000 people, it was packed to the rafters for the home team.

But after the Fifa World Cup next year is all gone and forgotten, the stadium will struggle to fill 30% of its seats again.

The teams based in Brasília are small, and giants like Flamengo and São Paulo have no reason to leave their home towns to play there.

Maybe a giant music concert will do the trick now and then, but then again, how often can you bring Paul McCartney to the city?

The cost of the National Stadium is an enormous $550?million (R5.6?billion).

Something similar happened in other cities: Manaus, Cuiabá, Natal.

In Porto Alegre, in the south, public money is being poured into a new stadium for the World Cup even after another modern arena has been recently inaugurated.

On a smaller scale, such indignation was felt in South Africa three years ago.

And not only towards hugely expensive stadiums, but also regarding Fifa bossing authorities, the changing of laws to accommodate the world body’s demands and the overprotection of sponsors (to the loss of merchants, shop owners and street vendors).

Demonstrations and violence will in time cool down, the Confederations Cup will limp on and the World Cup will take place.

Brazilians will continue to love football, to support the Seleção and to flock to stadiums.

But there is a lesson to be learnt from these last amazing and quite scary days, and Fifa should heed it.

If even Brazilians can question how World Cups are made and the way the organisation operates, the football governing body is in for a lot of self-criticism.

Or it can ignore the message from the streets and risk a backlash that can only grow in future years.

»?Zanini is foreign editor at Folha de S. Paulo, Brazil’s largest daily (www.folha.com.br)

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.