Brazil’s World Cup?

iStock_000002019959Small Few World Cups have been accompanied by such a loud voice of discontent emanating from the streets of nearly all major cities. Brazilians may be unified by their deeply-rooted passion for football, but couldn’t be more divided in terms of income disparity. Promises were made to the poor – who are by far the vast majority – spreading hope that the World Cup will solve at least some of the country’s gigantic mobility challenges. investigates the results of Brazil’s efforts to better connect its own people with each other.

Very poor infrastructure

Brazil’s infrastructure is largely deficient. Only 1.5% of Brazil’s GDP is invested into infrastructure, the world’s average being set at 3.5%.[1] In terms of quality, its infrastructure is ranked at 114 out of 148 countries by The World Economic Forum. Most of Brazil has never seen a train and ports and airports are in dire need of renovation. However, out of the $14 billion spent on the World Cup’s preparation $11 billion went into financing new stadiums. It’s easy to understand people’s fury when looking at Brasilia’s massively renewed stadium, the Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha: at $900 million it’s the world’s second most expensive sports arena (after London’s Wembley).[2] Unfortunately, the capital Brasilia has no history of prominent sports clubs and does not even host a football club in Brazil’s major league called the Campeonato Brasileiro da Série A. Seven World Cup matches later, the building will struggle to comprehend its own purpose. Instead, long-planned high-speed rail that would have connected Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo in less than two hours has fallen short. The service was said to be up and running by 2014 – yet it simply isn’t. Manaus, the Amazonian jungle city nearly 3,000 kilometres away from Copacabana Beach, applied for funding to initiate multiple infrastructure projects ranging from rapid bus travel to monorail – none of which were granted in the end. It too will be left with a massive stadium no one in Manaus really cares about. iStock_000036858122Small

Not Brazil’s World Cup

It would be a bit unfair not to mention some of the improvements that have come into existence: Sao Paulo and Cuiaba both added new terminals to their airports due to complaints about kilometre-long queues. Cuiaba even managed to build rail – that connects the airport to the city centre. One clear winner is Brazil’s electricity grid. More than 200 upgrades have been made in the 12 host cities to avoid black-outs. Most of the preparation has focused on what’s important for visitors: spacious airports with rapid connections to the city centre and shiny new stadiums. Whereas the latter will hardly solve any societal challenges, the former may at least contribute to an increase in tourism. Overall, Brazil’s World Cup – the most expensive in history - has been a letdown for the people in Brazil. Let’s hope that Brazil takes the necessary measures to finish what it has promised: more investment in its own roads, trams, buses, trains and airports. In 2016, the Olympic Games are hosted in Rio. Hopefully Brazil won’t disappoint its people this time.

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