Brazil has the World Cup blues, but SA ‘unlikely’ to step in
IT WAS highly unlikely South Africa would host the Fifa World Cup next year should Brazil not meet deadlines, said the South African Football Association (Safa).
The country has been short-listed as a back-up option should the World Cup be moved, as it qualifies automatically as a previous host. South Africa, with 2006 hosts Germany, are in pole position.
But Dominic Chimhavi, spokesman for Safa, said they were certain Brazil would host the World Cup next year, despite a number of setbacks.
Five major developments, including the Arena de São Paulo, which is due to host the opening match involving hosts Brazil on June 12 and the second semi-final, are behind schedule.
A tragic crane accident at the Arena de Sao Paulo, which killed two site workers, is set to knock the project back two months.
Brazil’s sports minister has tried to allay fears of violence harming next year’s World Cup by saying authorities were working hard “to contain this violence”, and that the main areas where fans congregated would be safe.
“As you know, Safa’s president Danny Jordaan is also part of the Brazil World Cup organising committee, so we have been giving Brazil advice about getting ready in time,” said Chimhavi.
“They have the most passionate fans, a beautiful country, and all of its people eat, sleep and drink soccer.”
Chimhavi said Safa had specifically helped the Brazil organising committee with stadium preparation.
“When South Africa hosted the World Cup in 2010, to say we worked hard was an understatement,” he said.
“Instead of working a normal day, we worked round the clock.
“We were under constant pressure from media around the world too, before we hosted the World Cup, but we got everything done in time and hosted an incidentfree tournament,” said Chimhavi.
This week Brazil admitted all its stadiums still under construction for the 2014 World Cup would not be ready by Fifa’s original December 31 deadline.
Brazil’s sports minister Aldo Rebelo said the six venues – in Sao Paulo, Curitiba, Porto Alegre, Cuiaba, Manaus and Natal – would be finished in January.
Fifa agreed this week to extend its deadline.
Meanwhile, local World Cup analyst Nikolaus Eberl said it would be logistically impossible to move the World Cup from Brazil at this stage. “Technically, South Africa is a back-up option. However, logistically it is near impossible to move the World Cup at this stage,” he said.
“Once tickets have been released, the repercussions of reversing the hosting process would be enormous.
“The last time such a scenario unfolded was in 1982 when the 1986 hosts, Colombia, had to withdraw due to security concerns – in other words, four years before kick-off.”
Eberl added, however, that Brazil’s preparations had been dogged by one disaster after another.
“First, three stadiums missed the completion deadline for December 31, then Brazil declared Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke an unwelcome person over comments that ‘ the home of football needed a kick in their backside’.”
“Hooliganism keeps plaguing the Brazilian football league, and even the 2012 final of the Copa Sudamericana had to be aborted when security personnel beat members of the visiting Argentinian club, in what South American football officials described as the most serious incident in decades.
“The Confed Cup had to be nearly aborted during the first week of the tournament due to the massive protests against corruption that saw one million people taking to the streets blockading access to the stadiums, demanding that the ‘Fifa standards’ were equally applied to the dire conditions in Brazil’s health, education and public transport systems.”
Eberl said that despite the number of setbacks, Brazil would most certainly be ready come June, when the World Cup kicks off.
“As always, Fifa will make sure that the World Cup projects will be finished in time.
“This event is just too big to fail.”