New concern raised over whether Brazil's airports can cope with 2014 World Cup
LONDON/RIO DE JANEIRO, May 08: While Sports Minister Orlando Silva is making all the right positive noises about Brazil’s preparations to host the 2014 World Cup, support has come for concerns expressed earlier this year by FIFA president Sepp Blatter.
A critical report in The Economist points up the lack of urgency in airport redevelopment, the fact that work has yet to start on the new stadium due to host the Opening Match in São Paulo and a forecast of cost over-runs on the rebuilding of Maracana in Rio de Janeiro – venue for the Final.
The size of Brazil means that airport efficiency is more important than at any previous World Cup. But The Economist says: “Most most of Brazil’s airports are already operating above their nominal capacity. Baggage handling and check-in are slow; delays and cancellations common . . . hectic growth in local demand would still leave most airports overcrowded — even without 1m football fans.”
This report quotes government sources refuting such negative forecasts but also notes Paulo Resende, an infrastructure specialist, as warning against unrealistic expectations. He says: “If we persist in saying that everything will be ready for the World Cup, no matter what, we risk making fools of ourselves.”
In the meantime, the Brazilian organising committee is in negotiations to appoint triple World Cup-winner Pele as a hosting ambassador.
This may illustrate the depth of concern behind the scenes. Pele has often been at odds with Ricardo Teixeira, who is president of both the Brazilian football confederation and the local World Cup organising committee.
Most notably, their row over domestic TV rights prompted Teixeira’s father-in-law, the then FIFA president Joao Havelange, to bar Pele from a role in the draw for the 1994 World Cup finals in the United States.