Time is running out for 2014 World Cup preparations to be ready in time for the start of the summer showpiece..
The tournament kicks off on June 12, 2014, but a host of the venues remain unfinished as we edge ever closer to Brazil’s opening game against Croatia, according to reports. Three stadiums remain a work in progress, including the one in Sao Paolo that is set to host the tournament curtain-raiser.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter recently claimed, “Brazil will be a well done World Cup,” per Tales Azzoni of the Associated Press (via Yahoo.com), but he was critical of the local authorities for their lackadaisical approach to their preparations.
Blatter continued, “Some of the delays are because there was no work for years. But we're on the way now to finishing the stadiums.”
It’s certainly not as if Brazil hasn't had time to adequately prepare for the tournament, having been awarded the World Cup seven years ago. But with regular protests gripping the country and the 2016 Olympics also looming large, preparations have been severely disrupted.
Drastic measures are being put in place to ensure Brazil has the adequate facilities for media and spectators, including the erection of temporary structures in a plethora of host cities.
Looking ahead, the lessons learned from this World Cup will surely enable better preparation for Russia in 2018, something that FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke also touches on in Azzoni’s piece:
“It's a lesson and definitely we will act differently” said Valcke. “We will have to find a different way of working for Russia 2018.”
Naturally, the last-minute nature of much of the preparations will certainly raise concern. Especially when it comes to the problems with construction and stadium safety that have been well documented, per Ben Rumsby in The Telegraph.
In truth, you have to wonder if the Brazilian authorities will have sufficient time to conduct thorough safety checks, with stadium completion dates set to run very close to the competition start date.
Rio de Janeiro Set for Struggles?
Simon Jenkins has written a piece in The Guardian suggesting Rio de Janeiro is in danger of being overwhelmed by a combination of the World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, which are due to take place in the Brazilian city.
Jenkins writes that the World Cup is in danger of putting the Olympic Games preparations severely behind schedule. It is something Jenkins attributes to the World Cup's—or as he puts it, the “Olympics-lite”— preparations lagging behind themselves:
The catalyst might well be this June’s Olympics-lite, otherwise known as the football World Cup. It is costing Brazil $4bn (£2.4bn) on stadiums alone for 64 football matches—a staggering $62m per match—plus some $7bn for associated infrastructure. Only generals at war and Swiss sports officials contemplate such obscene spending.
When FIFA’s secretary-general, Jerome Valcke, came to inspect preparations last month, he professed himself appalled. Two years ago he had warned Brazil to give itself 'a kick up the backside.' His boss Sepp Blatter said the place was 'the most delayed World Cup since I have been at FIFA.' They treated Brazil as a badly behaved child.
Hosting two of the biggest sporting events on the planet would put strain on any country. But for a country as diverse as Brazil, it could prove to be perilously difficult.
If the World Cup is indeed an "Olympics-lite," it's difficult to comprehend how a solitary city will be able to cope with the demands of hosting an event like the Olympics, which is considerably more all-encompassing and arguably more high-profile than the World Cup.
Hopefully, lessons will have been learned after the World Cup, and preparations for the Olympic Games will be a much more streamlined process.
Ticket Sales Delayed Amid Stadium Farce
Reports suggest that the delays on stadium completion have left FIFA organisers "clueless" when it comes to arranging ticket sales. According to FIFA marketing director Thierry Weil, per Ian Stewart Palmer from Soccerly.com (h/t Kyle Bonn of NBC Sports' Pro Soccer Talk), 7 percent of the tickets for the World Cup are being kept back, with fears emerging that a host of seats will be unfinished for the summer.
Palmer provides an insight into the frustrations that these delays are causing ahead of the tournament kick-off:
The country has failed to meet the FIFA-imposed deadlines on a few venues and the world’s largest sporting event is scheduled to kick off on June 12 in Sao Paulo, which of course is now less than two months away. Time is ticking and according to Thierry Weil, the marketing director for FIFA, it is becoming very frustrating for the world’s governing body of soccer and fans alike.
Seven percent may not sound like a lot, but over the course of a tournament, that will amount to thousands of people missing out on the biggest football event on the calendar.
For seats to remain unfinished at this late stage is an incredible farce, and we can only hope that the stadiums are finished on time to enable as many people from around the world to take in the atmosphere of what promises to be an otherwise enthralling spectacle.