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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 October 2007, 17:22 GMT
Tim Vickery column
Brazil fan sporting national colours

Tim Vickery
By Tim Vickery
South American football reporter

It is about time the World Cup returned to South America.

The continent staged the inaugural version in 1930, and hosted four of the first 10 World Cups, but up to and including South Africa 2010, it has staged none of the next eight.

The last time the World Cup came this way was 1978 in Argentina, when it was a tournament for 16 teams.

With the current 32-team competition the sheer size of the undertaking ruled out everyone bar Brazil, the continent's giant.

There is no doubt Brazil can stage a World Cup, but what kind of tournament will it deliver and what will the legacy be for Brazilian society?

Fifa's inspection committee appears to place the bar of demands very low in the case of both the country's transport links and stadiums

Brazilian sports minister Orlando Silva says his country will organise the best ever World Cup.

A period of silence on his part would have been preferable.

This is the empty rhetoric all too typical of Brazil's pampered, peacock-strutting authorities.

There is no way Brazil will be able to provide what Germany did last year in delivering magnificent public transport networks between and inside cities and state-of-the-art stadiums.

But what Brazil can certainly do is work to close the gap between its infra-structure and that provided by Germany.

The 2014 World Cup is a wonderful opportunity to do exactly that.

My profound hope is that this opportunity will be taken. My fear is that the open goal will be missed.

It was clear in March 2003 that the 2014 World Cup would go to Brazil.

Over four-and-a-half years later those in charge have not even managed to select the cities they wish to use.

A list of 18 cities has been presented to Fifa to be whittled down to nine or 10.

606: DEBATE

Then there is the report published by Fifa's inspection committee, based on their recent visit to Brazil.

The document appears to place the bar of demands very low in the case of both the country's transport links and stadiums.

"Air and urban transport infra-structure would comfortably meet the demands" of a World Cup, states the report with astonishing complacency.

True, the current crisis in the air network should be solved well before time.

But the urban problem will be much harder to put right with its major cities clogged up by overcrowded buses due to the country's long-term neglect of mass transport.

Rio's Maracana
The Maracana needs an overhaul

Had the Fifa committee members spent three hours on foot or on a bus crawling through Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo they might have a less rosy view of Brazil's transport network.

Just as worringly Fifa seems satisfied with very little in terms of the stadiums to be used.

But even Ricardo Teixeira, president of the Brazilian FA (the Brazilian Football Confederation), is on record as saying that Rio's Maracana and Sao Paulo's Morumbi stadium were not up to scratch.

Now they are a key part of the 2014 project, likely to stage the opening match and the final.

A maximum of four new grounds will be built (Portugal built six new ones to stage Euro 2004), and none of the new constructions are in the heartlands of the Brazilian game.

All the other stadiums will be redeveloped, a process that often turns out more expensive than building from scratch.

Amazingly, the inspection committee report states that "most of the stadiums which are to be renovated or rebuilt are aiming to maintain their current structure, so in most cases there would be a huge space between the stands and the pitch area".

This was considered out of date years ago.

It means that even before the work on them has begun the 2014 stadiums are running the risk of being obsolete.

And the report makes no mention of any obligation to place a roof on the stadiums - a feature which would be of enormous benefit in a country of scalding sun and occasional torrential rain.

"The proposed financial investment in the country's infra-structure," writes inspection committee president Hugo Salcedo in his introduction to the report, "will not only benefit the population as a whole, but will also leave Brazil's footballers and football fans alike with an indelible monument to the country's great sporting and cultural heritage."

But if the content of his team's report serves as a guide, then the legacy of 2014 will fall short of its potential.

It is up to Brazilian society to make sure that this is not the case.



SEE ALSO
Brazil will stage 2014 World Cup
30 Oct 07 |  Internationals
Tim Vickery column
22 Oct 07 |  Internationals


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