The 2014 World Cup in Brazil has been overwhelmed with problems. From the hazardous working conditions on the stadiums, which have taken the lives of several construction workers, to the costs of said stadiums which have sparked protests in hundreds of cities around the country — it has been anything but easy for Brazil who are hosting their first World Cup since 1950.
But when June rolls around, specifically June 12 when hosts Brazil face off against Croatia to start the tournament, there will be a rest to the disapproval from within Brazil as it turns its eyes on their team, who are expected to win it all. The dazzling football displayed by 21-year-old Neymar will be a bandage for all the pain and suffering the country endured to make this tournament happen. But Neymar, nor his teammates Robinho, Hulk and Oscar, will be able to remedy the real problems at hand.
The young Brazilian players are expected to win it all, which would soften the blow of having lost the tournament in 1950 in devastating fashion. And if they do there might be some consolation that comes with the glory of winning the biggest soccer tournament in the world. But on July 13 when the tournament concludes, regardless of who comes out victorious, there will be a long-lasting damaging imprint in the country left by the tournament.
Estadio do Maracanã will stage the final game, the stadium which was built 63 years ago to host the 1950 tournament, and it is one of the few World Cup venues that hasn’t had any serious setbacks. The renovations in preparation for the World Cup at Estadio do Maracanã have already finished, and the initial safety concerns of the stadium issued by local justice have been laid to rest.
But the stadium that will open the tournament, Itaquera Arena in São Paulo, Brazil, might not be finished until April 14 or 15 — just two months before the opening game. The stadium was believed to be about 94% completed before a crane collapsed into the stands, causing two construction-worker casualties.
Arena da Baixada in Curitiba had to scrap plans of renovating the 100-year-old stadium to boast a retractable roof. Judge Lorena Colnago said there was “a serious risk of workers being buried, run over and of collision, falling from heights and being hit by construction material, among other serious risks,” in her report with the Parana Regional Labour Tribunal.
And in Cuiabá, the completion of Arena Pantanal has been pushed back until February. The stadium is specifically being built for the tournament and there is plenty of controversy about the usage of the 42-thousand-plus seat stadium post World Cup. Cuiaba is a small and isolated city, and not known for a rich tradition of football; sides Mixto and Operario never attract the types of crowds it would take to fill the arena — even after they reduce the seating by 10,000 after the tournament is over. On top of all of that, it will likely be the hottest climate of all 12 cities. Temperatures can reach upwards of 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the coldest months of the year: June and July. This could affect the play of several teams who aren’t as used to such feverish climate conditions.
The weather has many countries around the world planning specific training regimens in order to prepare properly. Defending champions Spain and Nigeria are considering training in Florida in the United States; while Germany, who are also tournament favorites will for the third straight tournament train in South Tirol, Italy. Germany has also made sound waves by starting construction on a million pound headquarters that would become their camp for the duration of the tournament. While initially the project raised eyebrows, Germany’s general manager Oliver Bierhoff laid concerns of them not following proper procedures to rest. “It is neither being built for us, nor to our specifications,” said Bierhoff at a press conference in Frankfurt. Though they will have some influence on the camps specifications.
The dozens of new structures erected specifically for this tournament will cost the country billions in tax dollars and in maintenance post world cup. But it might all be worth it if Brazil takes the Jules Rimet Trophy back from Spain in July. A lot of the dark cloud covering the country lies on the shoulders of Neymar, as he is the brightest of many young stars that the Brazilian national team has on the pitch. Though, they won’t be handed anything, despite their easy group draw that will let them coast into the round of 16.
With Uruguay waiting in the wings to take down their South American neighbors, flashbacks to Alcides Ghiggia ripping the hearts out of Brazil 63 years ago will return every time Luis Suarez touches the ball anywhere near Júlio César. Or perhaps it will be Argentina, who has nearly as much of a home field advantage as the hosts do while boasting the single best player in the world — Lionel Messi.
The 2014 World Cup in Brazil has caused more trouble than glory, so far. But with the tournament yet to be played there is hope from within the country that all can be mended by the young men they send out next summer to bring home their leading sixth World Cup win.
2013 in Brazil was memorable, with the protests that beset the country during the Confederations Cup. But that was just a test-run for the World Cup. The summer of 2014 will hopefully be devoid of violence. That would be the biggest victory for Brazil.