Brazil has the World Cup blues, but SA ‘un­likely’ to step in

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NELSON MANDELA 1918-2013 - SAMEER NAIK

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.”

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