The Brazilian media is following every twist and turn of a colourful spat between FIFA and the Brazilian government. That is masking some frightening (and not updated) numbers on costs for the Cup with construction firms using the negative publicity and government hyper-sensitivity to gouge out more money.
Senators, who are used to fulsome praise, at least in public, are being uppity because of a very public attack on Brazil’s readiness for the cup. FIFA representative Jerome Valcke may indeed have overstepped the mark when he said that Brazil needed a kick up the backside, but the thrust of what he was saying, that hotels and airports are way behind, remains unassailable. In fact, the government has acknowledged this in the past.
Yet instead of addressing these valid complaints, the Senate has leaped on an opportunity to vaunt its wounded pride. Today, Senators announced they had cancelled a meeting with Valcke and upped the ante in the country’s troubled relations with FIFA. “We do not accept the FIFA’s caretaker. What was approved was a meeting with [President] Blatter, not his aide. If it was up to me, he would get a kick in the backside,” the eminently-quotable Roberto Requiao chairman of the Education, Culture and Sports commission said.
This is all fun stuff but is masking the sad truth. Costs are spiralling out of control and the games will be a patch job. The Senate itself admitted last year that costs would be close to 30% higher than expectations. Private estimates run much higher. Some stadia are only one quarter complete. There are not enough hotels and urban transport will be insufficient. No doubt many will enjoy discovering Brazil’s panache and ability to throw a party from nothing in 2014. But as a symbol of Brazil’s growing maturity, the games will prove an abject failure.