The dust has finally settled after Carnival in Brazil and now all sights are set on the FIFA World Cup this summer!
The buzz here in Rio is an interesting mix of excitement and dread, with a heavy coding of nervous anticipation on all sides.
While World Cup sponsors have already begun slinging merchandise and promotions, the local government has increased their efforts in construction and “pacification.”
Here are the developing storylines leading up to the World Cup this summer…
I went to a Fluminense game last week at Maracana stadium where they are widening and adding railings to the bridge that connects the Maracana metro stop to the stadium entrance. They are also working on a number of upgrades around the stadium, which I was told were supposed to be done last year.
That is nothing compared to what’s going on around other parts of the country where World Cup stadiums are still not ready.
Arena da Baixada World Cup stadium in Curitiba has finally reopened this past Saturday after two years of construction, however, there are two other stadiums still under construction.
The Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo (host of the opening match between Brazil and Croatia on June 12th) still isn’t complete and it now might be held up even more because of a worker strike after another Brazilian construction worker died on site last week.
In Porto Alegre, the local mayor had said that the city might drop out if additional funding was not found to build facilities for media, sponsors and fans. Porto Alegre’s Beira Rio stadium is due to host five matches during the tournament.
FIFA has insisted that funding is available and I think they will do (spend) whatever it takes to ensure everything is ready in time.
Rio’s War Zone
The headlines of every paper and news program here in Rio since I’ve arrived have been dedicated to the pacification efforts in the cities favelas. The current operation is happening in the Maré complex, which consists of 15 slums on the city’s north side where the UPP (pacification police), military police and BOPE (special forces) have moved in to take control and try to push out gangs.
Security forces will eventually set up permanent posts in Maré and other favelas as part of the “pacification” program that began in 2008, meant to secure Rio ahead of the World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics.
Violence has increased dramatically in these areas over the last few months and many police officers and civilians have died as a result of the initiative (see Rio Warzone photos).
I won’t attempt to explain the political and social layers involved here on this post.
There is a saying here in Rio, “Imagina na Copa” (Imagine the Cup) which refers to the fact that if you think prices, traffic or anything else is crazy now… imagine how it will be this summer for the World Cup.
Prices on food and public transportation are rising rapidly as I anticipated, but I’m interested to see what happens after the Cup. Maybe even after the Olympics, huge recession or thriving economy? I have an idea, but we will see.
The Beautiful Game
Despite any negative political, social and economic aspects that the FIFA World Cup in Brazil might face, if you take that all away, and think of only the World Cup for what it is then you will see that the games are going to be absolutely amazing. I can’t wait!
Brazil is a heavy favorite and the pressure is completely on them to win it all. I can’t imagine how it will be here if they make it happen. Also, I can’t imagine how it will be if they don’t.
I’ve already shared my favorites on the World Cup Match Schedule post, but let’s be honest, if Brazil wins, it will be a once in a lifetime experience.
Nike as always comes through with their first Nike World Cup ad to capture the magnitude of the moment with Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Neymar Jr. (Brazil) and Wayne Rooney (England)…
My T2T Goal: Working at the World Cup
My goal here in Brazil is to somehow work for the World Cup and be a part of the experience. Despite many hurtles and barriers things might be moving in the right direction now.
FIFA makes it very difficult to do anything but volunteer if you’re not already a part of their organization to some capacity, and short-term marketing gigs with sponsors have been tough to come by.
There are a million people trying to get press and video credentials into the games (managed by FIFA) as well so that doesn’t seem to be a feasible path.
With a little patience and perseverance, I’m still knocking on every door and have another call this week with a company who would be the perfect fit to what I’m looking for.
I’m not trying to be dramatic or leave you with a cliffhanger; I just want to see if it works out first before I talk about it.
World Cup 2014 Tickets
To hedge my bets against any World Cup work falling through, I purchased one ticket for two games; the sweet 16 round and the quarterfinal match at Maracana in Rio de Janeiro.
I bought the tickets from a site called Viagogo.com because the March 12th FIFA ticket round was already sold out.
After purchasing the tickets I was notified that FIFA makes it illegal for Viagogo to send tickets directly to Brazil so I will need to have them sent to my home in New York first and then sent to my address in Rio.
Now, their site tells me tickets are unavailable in my country.
The problem is, Viagogo is a marketplace (like stubhub) and sellers send out tickets only a few days before the scheduled match so I don’t know if I will receive my tickets on time for the matches and they told me that there is no eticket available.
There has to be another way, I just have to keep working towards it, but it has been difficult to communicate the urgency with them and explaining that I don’t trust the efficiency of Brazilian mail.
Where there’s a will there’s a way and hopefully I will have this all sorted by the time of my next World Cup update.